Development of Tantalum Carbide for Microgravity Containment Cartridges
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AbstractTwo critical aspects for microgravity materials experiments are to ensure the safety of the International Space Station (ISS) crew/hardware and to maximize the level of obtainable science. Several of the materials processing experiments for the Quench Module Insert (QMI), one of the first Experiment Modules (EM) to be used aboard the ISS, require processing aluminum or aluminum alloys. Recent tests by NASA have shown refractory metal cartridges have limited resistance to attack from molten aluminum. In addition, these cartridge materials have relatively low emissivities which result in reduced rates of heat transfer from the heater core to samples being processed; thus, the level of obtainable science is not maximized. Recently, tantalum carbide has been identified as having a high resistance to attack by molten aluminum as well as having a significantly higher emissivity than typical refractory metal cartridge materials. Therefore, an investigation is proposed to develop methods for producing tantalum carbide on the internal and external surfaces of containment cartridges for use in microgravity furnaces. Successful completion of this work will enhance furnace efficiency by lowering power requirements and increasing quench rates, increase sample containment reliability/safety, and reduce the cost to produce sample containment cartridges.
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