Silicon-Boron Alloys as New Ultra-High Temperature Phase-Change Materials: Solid/Liquid State Interaction with the h-BN Composite


Silicon-boron alloys have been recently pointed out as novel ultra-high temperature phase change materials for applications in Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage (LHTES) and conversion systems. One of the emerging challenges related to the development of such devices is a selection of refractories applicable to build a vessel for storing molten Si-B alloys at high temperatures and under consecutive melting/solidification conditions. Previously, it has been documented that hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) is the only one ceramic showing a non-wettability and limited reactivity with Si-B alloys at temperatures up to 1750 °C, what makes it a good candidate of the first selection for the predicted application. Nevertheless, pure h-BN shows a rather low mechanical strength that could affect a durability of the LHTES vessel. Therefore, the main purpose of this work was to examine high temperature behavior of commercial high strength h-BN composite having a nominal composition of h-BN-24ZrO2-6SiC (vol.%) in contact with a solid/liquid eutectic Si-3.2B alloy. Two types of sessile drop experiments were carried out: a step-contact heating up to 1750 °C, and a thermocycling at 1300 − 1450 °C composed of 15 cycles of the alloy melting/solidification. The obtained results showed a lack of wettability in the examined system at temperatures up to 1750 °C. The Si-3.2B alloy presented good repeatability of melting/solidification temperatures in consecutive thermal cycles, which was not affected by the interaction with the h-BN composite. However, due to reactions taking place between the composite’s components leading to structural degradation, it is not recommended to increase operational temperature of this material above 1450 °C.


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The project AMADEUS has received funds from the European Union’s Horizon2020 research and innovation program, FET-OPEN action, under grant agreement 737054. The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union. Neither the REA nor the European Commission are responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

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Polkowski, W., Sobczak, N., Bruzda, G. et al. Silicon-Boron Alloys as New Ultra-High Temperature Phase-Change Materials: Solid/Liquid State Interaction with the h-BN Composite. Silicon 12, 1639–1649 (2020).

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  • Silicon-boron alloys
  • Hexagonal boron nitride
  • Sessile drop method
  • Latent heat thermal energy storage
  • AMADEUS project