Wonder Garden provided their Zirconia ceramic cartridge (Zirco™) and an industry standard metal cartridge for thermal investigation of vaporization technologies. To study the durability and thermal degradation of the samples, Aliovalents Material Research utilized pycnometry, x-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectroscopy on samples varying from pristine to degraded (300 °C and 600 °C). The decrease in density indicated an increase in volume for the brass sample at 600 °C, while the ceramic sample did not show any significant change in density.
The brass used as the metal center-post underwent significant oxidation in a short amount of time, in comparison to the ceramic sample. The ceramic center-post remained pristine due to the high unreactive chemical nature of its ionic bonding. Scanning electron microscopy was then utilized to obtain the high resolution images on the microscale to identify any physical changes. The surface of the brass which was not corrosion resistant and was fully oxidized. The evident increase in surface roughness occured due to the oxidation, acting as new nucleation sites for further corrosion which exacerbated the degradation.
On the other hand, Zirconia samples remain consistent and can be used for even higher temperature applications. This signifies the importance of the ionic chemical bonding in Zirconia vs the metallic bonding in the Brass centerpost. The elemental mapping of the samples indicated higher oxygen content in the degraded metal samples which corresponds to the formation of oxides.
The collected data shows that the ceramic sample is much more stable at the elevated temperatures that the samples were tested at.