Solid oxide membrane-assisted controllable electrolytic fabrication of metal carbides in molten salt
Silicon carbide (SiC), titanium carbide (TiC), zirconium carbide (ZrC), and tantalum carbide (TaC) have been electrochemically produced directly from their corresponding stoichiometric metal oxides/carbon (MOx/C) precursors by electrodeoxidation in molten calcium chloride (CaCl2). An assembled yttria stabilized zirconia solid oxide membrane (SOM)-based anode was employed to control the electrodeoxidation process. The SOM-assisted controllable electrochemical process was carried out in molten CaCl2 at 1000 °C with a potential of 3.5 to 4.0 V. The reaction mechanism of the electrochemical production process and the characteristics of these produced metal carbides (MCs) were systematically investigated. X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy analyses clearly identify that SiC, TiC, ZrC, and TaC carbides can be facilely fabricated. SiC carbide can be controlled to form a homogeneous nanowire structure, while the morphologies of TiC, ZrC, and TaC carbides exhibit porous nodular structures with micro/nanoscale particles. The complex chemical/electrochemical reaction processes including the compounding, electrodeoxidation, dissolution–electrodeposition, and in situ carbonization processes in molten CaCl2 are also discussed. The present results preliminarily demonstrate that the molten salt-based SOM-assisted electrodeoxidation process has the potential to be used for the facile and controllable electrodeoxidation of MOx/C precursors to micro/nanostructured MCs, which can potentially be used for various applications.