The morphology characteristics and ablation behavior of a highly porous carbon fiber preform are studied using a combined experimental/numerical approach. Morphological characterization of the three-dimensional structure of the material is performed by hard X-rays synchrotron micro-tomography at the Advanced Light Source of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The resulting micro-tomography voxels are used to compute geometrical properties of the carbon preform, like porosity, specific surface area and tortuosity, that are otherwise indirectly measured through experimental techniques. The reconstructed volumes are used to build a computational grid for numerical simulations of the fibers' ablation. By modeling the diffusion of oxygen through the porous medium using Lagrangian methods, and the oxidation at the carbon fibers' surface using a reactivity model, the ablation of the carbon fibers are simulated for a range of Thiele numbers. It is shown that in the diffusion limited regime (large Thiele number), the ablation of the fibers occurs at the surface of the material. In the reaction limited regime (low Thiele number), the oxygen penetrates into the fibers, resulting in volumetric ablation and high material spallation.

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Conference Proceeding

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Published in the Proceedings of the 44th AIAA Thermophysics Conference, Paper 2013-2768, p. 1-11.

This material is declared a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States.

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