Effect of mullite phase formed in situ on pore structure and properties of high-purity mullite fibrous ceramics

Abstract Porous mullite ceramics are potential advanced thermal insulating materials. Pore structure and purity are the main factors that affect properties of these ceramics. In this study, high performance porous mullite ceramics were prepared via aqueous gel-casting using mullite fibers and kaolin as the raw materials and ρ-Al2O3 as the gelling agent. Effects of addition of mullite fibers on the pore structure and properties were examined. The results indicated that mullite phase in situ formed by kaolin, and ρ-Al2O3 ensured the purity of mullite samples and mullite fibers bonded together to form a nest-like structure, greatly improving the properties of ceramic samples. In particular, the apparent porosity of mullite samples reached 73.6%. In the presence of 75% of mullite fibers, the thermal conductivity was only 0.289 W/m K at room temperature. Moreover, the mullite samples possessed relatively high cold compressive strength in the range of 4.9–9.6 MPa. Therefore, porous mullite ceramics prepared via aqueous gel-casting could be used for wide applications in thermal insulation materials, attributing to the excellent properties such as high cold compressive strength and low thermal conductivity.
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