Novel Sacrificial Fibers for Microvascular Composites with Embedded Thermal Management Devices

Period of Performance: 05/15/2014 - 07/01/2014

$150K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Aurora Flight Sciences Corp.
9950 Wakeman Drive Array
Manassas, VA 20110
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Massachusetts Lowell
1 University Ave.
Lowell, MA 01854
Institution POC

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Aurora will demonstrate on our automated fiber placement (AFP) machine that we are able to lay up composite panels that contain sacrificial fibers that can be thermally decomposed to create a microvascular network of small cavities that allow the panel to act as a heat exchanger. The AFP machine is capable of producing composite parts from mold tools as large as 9 high by 18 wide by 56 long. It lays down an 8 wide swath of composite material at 1500 inches per minute. UMass Lowell (UML) has developed a method to manufacture sacrificial fibers that is 10^5 times faster than prior demonstrations in the literature. These new fibers reduce removal times by 50% and do not require the expensive and toxic chemicals used in traditional manufacturing methods. The UML partners have produced fiber in a wide range of diameters with continuous lengths exceeding hundreds of feet. Aurora and UML will analyze various composite/fiber geometries for thermal and flow characteristics and then fabricate and test those geometries. BENEFIT: Aurora will ultimately have a unique automated capability to design and manufacture heat exchangers embedded within composite structure. Panels could be designed and fabricated as composite aircraft wing skins or fuselage panels that could be used to dissipate aircraft engine heat, payload sensor heat, or avionics heat. These heat exchangers will be lighter weight and lower cost than metallic heat exchangers traditionally used in aircraft. UMass Lowell will have the opportunity to further develop their manufacturing process to produce catalyst-impregnated polylactide filaments in production quantities, allowing their technology approach to be sold or licensed to the fiber extrusion industry.