This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

HfC Structural Foams Synthesized from Polymer Precursors




Fan, Haibo

Type of Degree



Materials Engineering


A study was conducted to investigate a new low cost approach to produce Hafnium Carbide (HfC) structural foams through the thermolysis and pyrolysis of polymer precursors. Hafnium carbide has a melting point of over 3900?C, the highest melting point of any known binary alloy. HfC structural foams can be fabricated into high temperature components or used as a thermal insulation material. Current available methods for creating HfC structural foams are time consuming, expensive or the material produced lacks mechanical strength. The objectives of this research were to produce HfC foam through the thermolysis and pyrolysis of Hf containing polymer mixture, optimize the properties of the HfC foam, and develop a knowledge base of acceptable process parameters. With the proposed method, HfC foam was produced by mixing a hafnium containing Macromolecular Metal Complex (MMC) and carbon source polymers, followed by heat treating the mixture under vacuum. XRD analysis showed that the produced foam was largely composed of HfC, with small amounts of hafnium oxide. The foam total porosity was measured to be over 85%. The HfC lattice parameter was found to range from 0.4613 nm to 0.4647 nm. The HfC conversion mechanism was investigated using Residual Gas Analysis, where it was observed that polymer decomposition occurred from 80 through 550 ?C and HfC conversion started around 1100 ?C. The HfC foam mechanical properties and microstructure were improved by optimizing the process methods and parameters. The initial research yielded an HfC foam with a compression strength of 15.16 ± 4.66 MPa and evenly distributed foam cells with diameter sizes up to 50 ?m. Continued research showed that HfC foams with total porosity of about 85% (density 1.9g/cm3), and a foam compression strength of 212 ± 25MPa were achievable. The proposed methodology for synthesizing HfC foam was found to be simple, inexpensive and require less production time. The process can be controlled to produce HfC foams with a desirable microstructure and good mechanical strength.