The present paper investigates the static fatigue behavior of Hi-Nicalon fiber-reinforced SiC–SiC minicomposites at high temperatures in the 900–1200 °C range, and under tensile stresses above the proportional limit. The stress–rupture time relation was analyzed with respect to subcritical crack growth in filaments and fiber tow fracture. Slow crack growth from flaws located at the surface of filaments is driven by the oxidation of free carbon at the grain boundaries. Lifetime of the reinforcing tows depends on the statistical distribution of filament strength and on structural factors, which are enhanced by temperature increase. The rupture time data were plotted in terms of initial stresses on reinforcing filaments. The effect of temperature and load on the stress–rupture time relation for minicomposites was investigated using results of fractography and predictions of minicomposite lifetime using a model of subcritical growth for critical filaments. The critical filament is the one whose failure by slow crack-growth triggers unstable fracture of the minicomposite. This is identified by the strength–probability relation provided by the cumulative distribution function for filament strength at room temperature. The results were compared to the fatigue behavior of dry tows. The influence of various factors related to oxidation, including multiple failures, load sharing, and variability, was analyzed.
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