|About this Abstract
||MS&T23: Materials Science & Technology
||Additive Manufacturing of High and Ultra-high Temperature Ceramics and Composites: Processing, Characterization and Testing
||A-9: Advanced Manufacturing of Complex Zirconium Carbide Structures for Space Nuclear Propulsion
||Jackie Stone, Ryan Finkelstein, Jhonathan Rosales, Brian Jaques
|On-Site Speaker (Planned)
NASA is considering nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) spacecraft for manned missions to Mars and is investigating uranium carbide (UC) fuel as a replacement for liquid propellant due to its inherent efficiency, lower cost, and lower susceptibility to cracking in comparison to other uranium-based fuels. Accordingly, there has been an increase in advanced manufacturing (AM) research for refractory ceramics due to its geometric versatility and lower costs when compared to alternative fabrication techniques. One of the greatest advantages of AM is the ability to make unique and complex geometries, which are important for maximizing fuel performance and design for NTP applications. In this study, zirconium carbide (ZrC) was used as a surrogate for UC. 3D ZrC structures were additively manufactured and printed after ink optimization suitable for a direct-write printer. After printing, optimized sintering processes were developed and the monoliths were characterized for phase, microstructural homogeneity, density, and light element impurities.