High Temperature Polymer Nanocomposites for Cryogenic Fuel Tanks

Period of Performance: 01/01/2002 - 12/31/2002

$70K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Triton Systems, Inc.
200 Turnpike Road Array
Chelmsford, MA 01824
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

Triton Systems responds to the NASA need to produce new and unique lightweight high use temperature polymer materials with inherently high gas barrier, strength, and thermal stability. These multifunctional materials will enable the use of composite materials to replace metallic cryogenic fuel tanks for the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). We will combine our extensive background in layered silicate nanocomposite technology with that of high use temperature polymers based on phenyl ethynyl imide (PEI) as well as Triton proprietary chemistries to achieve this goal. The incorporation of nanostructured silicate platelets into these polymer matrices will result in materials that will have superior gas barrier (i.e. hydrogen, oxygen). Further, the use of nanocomposites will achieve increased strength and decreased coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), which will result in the elimination of microcracking observed during thermal cycling of conventional composite materials. The use of minute quantities of our patented nanosilicates will ensure that these polymers can be processed by standard molding techniques (RTM). During Phase I we will synthesize and evaluate the physical properties of several polyimide-based nanocomposite materials. For Phase II we will optimize these properties, and scale up the synthesis to fabricate a prototype composite prepared by RTM.