Date of Award

Fall 2002

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Rice, James A.

Second Advisor

Fournelle, Raymond A.

Third Advisor

Brower, William E.


The effect of high-density electrical pulses on mechanical and structural properties of sintered aluminum SiC metal-matrix composites, fabricated by standard powder-metallurgy compaction and sintering, was investigated. Three types of phenomena where investigated during transverse rupture testing of the samples: a consolidation effect (increasing of the transverse rupture strength (TRS)), an electroplastic effect (decreasing of the flow stresses), and an increasing of the stress intensity factor by electric pulse application. It was observed, that an increase in the TRS strength of sintered powder metallurgy (PM) aluminum and aluminum metal matrix composite (MMC) compacts is a result of the electric pulse consolidation effect due to non-uniform temperature distribution around the grain boundaries. Three analytical models of the thermal effect of electric pulses on aluminum samples where considered: total temperature change of the sample due to a one electric pulse, one-dimensional steady state model and transient 2D thermal analysis of the temperature distribution around the grain boundary. The 2D transient analysis shows that the temperature rise in the grain boundary of a sintered PM aluminum sample due to an electric pulse can exceed the melting point. At the same time the temperature of the bulk material has an insignificant (<28°C) change. It was found that the electroplastic effect, due to electric pulse application, can account for up to a 40% load drop in aluminum MMC PM compacts. Reduction of flow stresses during plastic deformation could reduce the risk of structural damage, micro-cracks, SiC particle fracture and delamination of the aluminum MMC. These results may find practical application for manufacturing processes such as forging, extrusion, rolling, which involve plastic deformation. It was experimentally proven that a non-uniform temperature distribution around the crack could re-melt the crack tip and increase the strength of the damaged material. The experimental study shows an increase in the stress intensity factor up to 76% for sintered aluminum PM compacts and up to 116% for sintered aluminum MMC PM compacts due to application of high-density electric pulses during transverse rapture testing.



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