Processing of a New Class, Low-Cost Graphitic Microcellular C/C Composites using a One-Step Process

Period of Performance: 09/01/1998 - 09/01/2000

$800K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Wright Materials Research CO.
1187 Richfield Center
Beavercreek, OH 45430
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Many spacecraft components require structural materials with excelent stiffness and dimensional stability. Carbon-carbon (C/C) composites are prime materials for space applications because of their unique properties. Current C/C processing techniques are very expensive and time consuming. In the phase I research we have successfully processed a new class, low cost graphitic microcellular foam and microcellular C/C composites from mesophase pitch using a single-step process. The micron sized bubbles form a strong network between graphite fabrics and foamed graphite matrix. Excellent specific stiffness and specific strength, near zero thermal expansion coefficients, no out-gassing make this class of microcellular C/C composites ideal for space structure applications. Samples with unidirectional fabrics or woven fabrics as reinforcements have been processed. Phase II of this research will focus on optimizing the processing technique and conditions and scale up the products in bulk and sellable form. Various mechanical tests, SEM analyses and thermal evaluation will be performed to characterize the properties and morphology of the material. All this information will be used to generate a brochure for marketing. The proposed processing technique could reduce the cost of C/C structures over 70% in addition to the tremendous weight savings.