Journal of the American Ceramic Society, Vol.103, No.3, 2146-2159, 2020
Unveiling hermetic failure of ceramic tubes by digital image correlation and acoustic emission
A new, in situ hermeticity testing apparatus has been developed to allow helium leak evaluation of ceramic tubes, including nuclear-grade SiC/SiC fuel cladding ceramic matrix composites (CMC), during four-point bending with simultaneous monitoring of local deformation and damage, using stereoscopic digital image correlation (DIC) and acoustic emissions. The capabilities of the experimental apparatus are demonstrated using alumina, borosilicate glass, and 4130 steel tubes with representative cladding dimensions and then applied to study the deformation-hermeticity relationship of SiC/SiC CMCs. Results of three CMCs appear to indicate that matrix cracking occurs near the deviation from linearity strain at strains ranging from 0.04% to 0.06% and is shortly followed by an initial loss of gas tightness by 0.09% bending strain. Leaking increased in distinct steps over 0.1%-0.2% bending strain, and within this range, results indicate that prior to fiber fracture, it is likely possible to regain gas tightness upon unloading. This technique and uncovered hermetic failure behavior are intended to progress the standardization of a test methodology for nuclear reactor components and to begin to resolve the mechanisms controlling distinct steps of ceramic matrix composite failure.