Fabrication techniques to produce micro and macro porous MAX-phase Ti2AlC ceramic

  • Tony Thomas

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


MAX-phase ceramics are a class of ductile ceramic material group with the general molecular formula Mn+1AXn (n = 1, 2, 3….), where M is an early transition element, A is an element from the ‘A’ group of the periodic table and X is either nitride or carbide. One advantage of these materials is that they maintain their strength at high temperatures. In addition these ceramic materials possess the best properties of both ceramics and metals. Some of their important characteristics are low density, high stiffness, machinability, excellent thermal and electrical conductivity and they even exhibit some plasticity at elevated temperature. These amazing combinations of properties have made researchers foresee the technological importance of these materials as a structural ceramic for high temperature application. Since this ceramic is relatively new to the market, only a handful of work has been undertaken on this material and its applications are limited to heating elements. In addition, analysis of the thermodynamic data on this material is incomplete. This PhD work addresses this issue and conducts a complete thermodynamic analysis involved in the formation mechanism of the ternary titanium carbide MAX-phase Ti2AlC ceramic, using Self-propagating High temperature Synthesis (SHS) form of combustion synthesis process, based on the following exothermic reaction: (2+x) Ti + (y) Al + C → Ti2AlC + (x) Ti + (y) Al (i) Where x and y = 0.1. 0.2, 0.3…A thermodynamic model has been formulated to predict the temperature evolution during the reaction (i), for the formation of Ti2AlC using SHS process. In addition the effect of particle size in the elemental reaction has been studied on the formation mechanism of Ti2AlC and methods to control the porosity by fine tuning the particle size has been recognized.Manufacturing processes such as Self-propagating High temperature Synthesis (SHS), foam replication and freeze casting have been developed in this thesis to produce micro and macro porous Ti2AlC ceramic mainly for electrode applications. A systematic material development technique to produce macro porous Ti2AlC ceramic, using a foam replication technique has been established in this research work. The material fabricated by this technique has a uniform pore size (up to 5mm), with open interconnected pores and is ideal for a flow battery application which requires a multifunctional electrode material which is highly porous to allow the flow of electrolyte through it, is corrosion resistant and at the same time being electrically conductive. The mechanical properties of the ceramic produced by this method has been characterised and steps to mitigate the cracks and defects formed during the fabrication process to obtain structurally stable macro porous Ti2AlC ceramic has been reported in this work. This research demonstrates that one of the applications of macro porous Ti2AlC ceramic formed using foam replication technique is as an electrode material in a photo-Microbial Fuel Cell (p-MFC).Graded porosity micro porous Ti2AlC ceramics have also been fabricated using a freeze casting technique, with camphene as the freezing vehicle. A systematic material development process has been tailored for this particular material. A ceramic material with gradient pore size ranging from 27-305µm has been fabricated using this technique. This type of ceramic is a good candidate as an electrode material in micro-redox battery and for sensing applications. A variety of processing parameters such as solid loading (amount of ceramic content in the material), freezing temperature and mould material which affect the pore formation and pore size have been studied in this PhD and the range of porosities achieved by controlling these parameters have been reported.
Date of Award2 Jul 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChris Bowen (Supervisor) & Irene Turner (Supervisor)


  • MAX-phase, Ceramic, SHS, Thermodynamics, Foam replication, Freeze casting, Micro and macro porous ceramics

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