Experiments on microwave sintering of ceramic fibers in a single-mode cavity have revealed the presence of thermal spikes and “hot spots” which sometimes travel along the fiber and eventually disappear. They are triggered by relatively small increases in microwave power, and thus have obvious implications for the development of practical microwave-based fiber processing systems. These hot spots are conjectured to originate at slight irregularities in the tow morphology, and propagate as the result of solid phase transitions which take place at elevated temperatures and reduce the dielectric loss coefficient є”.
An elementary mathematical model of the heat transfer process was developed which reproduces the essential features of the observed phenomena, thus lending support to our conjecture. This model is based on the assumption of one-dimensional heat conduction along the axis of the fiber tow, and radiation losses at the surface.