Chemical etching with different mixtures of acidic solutions has been investigated to disintegrate the two
outermost coatings from tri-structural isotropic coated particles containing zirconia kernels, which are
used in simulated particles instead of uranium dioxide. A scanning electron microscope (SEM) was used
to study the morphology of the particles after the first etching step as well as at different stages of the
second etching step. SEM examination shows that the outer carbon layer can be readily removed with
a CrO3–HNO3/H2SO4 solution. This finding was verified by energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) analysis.
Etching of the silicon carbide layer in a hydrofluoric–nitric solution yielded partial removal of the coating
and localized attack of the underlying coating layers. The SEM results provide evidence that the etching of
the silicon carbide layer is strongly influenced by its microstructure.