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engineers and what they're up to - wood unto carborundum...??? -

updated fri 27 feb 04


pdp1@EARTHLINK.NET on thu 26 feb 04


Hi Don,

This is quite interesting...!

I remember sitting in grade school ( as a boy mind you,) and
wondering if I might someday learn to make an 'Apple'
looking form of Cellulose Nitrate...that is, to 'treat' an
Apple or other in such a way as to convert it into something
like...that...if I hiot it with a 'Laser' of the right

Well too, I suppose one ought not mention those kinds of
things now-a-daze...

Anyway...most curious!

I'd expect the "Wood" form to distort in it's transition
unto Charcoal, but what the hell...

One could make 'Carborundum Briquettes' I suppose...

So far as my Tools, they are actually Tungsten Carbide
rather than Silicon Carbide, so, a different deal there...

Be a great process for making amuseing whet Stones of the
Silicon Carbide ( or of the 'Carborundum' school of
charms...) kind...


I do have a decent Vacuum Pump...and...pah'lenty of Wood...


Thanks for the fun!

Las Vegas

----- Original Message -----
From: "Don Goodrich"

> Hi Folks,
> This may be a little way off the beaten path, but it's
> ceramic-related.
> Yesterday I happened upon a copy of a new journal
published by the American
> Ceramic Society, called Applied Ceramic Technology. It's
filled with
> articles about cutting-edge research.
> One of them really piqued my interest. The title is
> Biomorphic SiC: A New Engineering Ceramic Material.
> It seems that while most of us weren't looking, ceramic
science has
> found a way to transmute wood into silicon carbide. That's
the stuff the
> high-priced kiln shelves are made of.
> As I understand it, the process goes something like this:
> Wood is about 50 percent carbon, and if it's heated in
an inert
> atmosphere you can boil off the non-carbon half of it.
> So, in an argon atmosphere at between 400 to 1000 degrees
C, wood is
> rendered into a sort of low-density charcoal that retains
the form and
> microstructure of the original wood.
> This having been done, you fire up your vacuum kiln
(yes, this is a no-
> atmosphere firing)to about cone 14 or 15 and melt some
silicon, dip the
> carbonized wood into it, and the silicon soaks into all
the pores. After
> awhile, the silicon and carbon combine to form SiC.
> The whole process from wood to carbide (it says here)
takes about 2 days.
> Just think of the possibilities. Whittle your own
custom kiln furniture.
> Carve a suit of armor in your woodshop. Transform that
vulnerable wooden
> table into something the dog will *never* chew on. Bison
Tools could take
> on incredible new shapes. Let your imagination soar.
> I realize it will be awhile before this catches on in
the pottery
> community, but with the help of our suppliers it can be
done. After all, if
> you have a de-airing pugmill you already have the vacuum
pump. The local
> welding shop already has the argon gas, and they should be
able to build a
> handy vacuum chamber to enclose our kilns, once we beef
'em up for cone 15
> duty. Within a few years, Paragon should be able to market
something that
> automates the whole process, eh Arnold?
> It happens that a lot of this wood-to-silicon carbide
research is being
> done in Spain. Perhaps Marcia and her husband can find
time for a field
> trip and find out more.
> Anyway, if this new journal keeps coming up with
inspiring articles like
> this one, I just might subscribe. You can check it out at:
> Cheers,
> Don Goodrich in thawing, soggy Zion, Illinois
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