Low Cost Lightweight Rhenium Components

Period of Performance: 10/19/1998 - 08/15/1999


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Powdermet, Inc.
9960 Glenoaks Blvd, Unit A
Sun Valley, CA 91352
Principal Investigator

Research Topics


Rhenium has been demonstrated to be the ideal material for construction of structures exposed to high temperature propellant exhausts, including divert systems, rocket motor throats, and gun tubes. Unfortunately, rhenium has three drawbacks, consisting of high cost, poor fabricability, and high density/weight. The proposed program will utilize commercially developed cermet technology to produce rhenium structures having high erosion and thermal resistance with a >50% reduction in cost and weight. Specifically, the proposed program will demonstrate the application of rhenium coatings to ceramic and metallic particles, which will then be fabricated into tailorable components using press and sinter or powder forging techniques. The resultant structure will consist of a continuous network of rhenium as the minor phase (roughly 30 v%), reinforced with a discreet distribution of ceramic or lower cost metallic phase. This technology is currently used for abrasives, syntactic foam, composite, and cutting tool manufacture. The proposed program would fabricate, characterize, and test in a subscale rocket engine, a series of rhenium cermets having a distribution of thermal conductivities and heat capacities, enabling the tailoring of rocket and gun components for naval applications.