Non-autoclave Materials for Large Composite Structures

Period of Performance: 04/23/2000 - 10/23/2000


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Science Research Laboratory Inc.
Somerville, MA 02143
Principal Investigator


Launch vehicles for the Space Based Infrared System will include Titan Launch vehicles and the Air Force Space Operations Vehicle(SOV). Composite structures on the SOV (the military version of NASA's Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) will be too large to cure inside existing autoclaves. Electron Beam processing is one of the most promising approaches for out-of-autoclave composite curing and bonding. Recent technology demonstration programs have shown potential cost savings and the ability to make large parts using EB curing at low temperature. However, additional development of EB-cured materials is required to meet RLV and SOV mechanical and thermal design specifications. Science Research Laboratory will work with the University of Dayton Research Institute to fabricate EB cured composites and to test the properties of these composites over a wide range of temperatures from 250°F to -423°F. These materials promise to meet or exceed the properties of Cytec Fiberite 977-2 (baseline for RLV cryotank composites) and to exceed the properties of the EB curable cationic epoxy currently used in the Lockheed Martin EB program. Electron beam curing and electron beam curable composites, adhesives and coatings have applications as reduced cost materials and processes for fabrication of large and small commercial and military aircraft structures, reusable launch vehicles, space operations vehicles, helicopters, cryotanks for liquid propellants, ground vehicle structures for military and civilian applications, in the fabrication of commercial automobiles and in the fabrication of composite shelters for military and humanitarian use. The total market is estimated to be at least $20M over the next five years.