Here are a couple of interesting posts here by Alan Goldwater of the Martin Fleischmann Memorial Project regarding a control test which he has recently done with copper wire heated on a fire brick.
Feb 18, 2018:
Here’s a simple precursor test under way. The fire brick is K-26, rated to 1450°C. A small concave area holds 1/2 sheet of Silver leaf, on which a 2-meter coiled length of AWG23 Copper magnet wire is placed. The oven will heat to 1000°C over 60 minutes, and hold for 120 minutes before shutting off. The goal is to see if the copper melting temp (1083°C) will be lowered by the presence of molten silver, and if so, whether it will soak into the porous fire brick. Depending on the result, a longer test may follow.
Feb 18, 2018:
Here’s the result, after about 180 minutes at ~1000°C. The copper wire is oxidized completely: though it retained its shape, it’s brittle and visibly crystallized in the cross-section. The silver is presumably in the black spots on the brick, as silver oxide. No trace of absorption into the brick is visible.
My conclusion is that the strange morphology seen in the LION aftermath is due to something far beyond the normal high-temperature behavior of these metals and refractories. This may be obvious in retrospect, but I like to test assumptions when it’s easy. Carry on!