Low Erosion, Lightweight Composites for Reaction Jet Control Systems

Period of Performance: 05/30/2008 - 05/30/2010


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Plasma Processes, Inc.
4914 Moores Mill Road
Huntsville, AL 35811
Principal Investigator


Reaction Jet Control (RJC) systems will provide agility, maneuverability and end-game lethality to missiles and precision guided munitions. Demonstration of this technology is an important milestone in the development of next generation multi role missiles, such as the Joint Dual Role Air Dominance Missile (JDRADM). The major technical challenge of the RJC program is developing low-cost, lightweight valves to withstand the extreme temperature environment of rocket motor exhaust. Rhenium metal has been successfully demonstrated as a high-temperature, non-eroding metal in solid propellant combustion gas. However, the use of monolithic rhenium components is limited due to cost and weight restrictions. Rhenium substitutes, such as silica-phenolic, carbide ceramics and coated carbon composites, have been designed, but are limited due to unacceptable erosion at elevated temperatures (e.g. 2600°K). The employment of functional rhenium coated graphite instead of expensive, free-standing, components is an innovative way to reduce up to 84% of the weight and cost, while keeping the proven performance of rhenium. An innovative deposition technique, known as EL-Form, was optimized in a Phase I investigation to manufacture RJC components for hot impact testing. Phase II efforts will focus on testing, cost mitigation tasks, RJC component fabrication and component evaluation via hot gas firing by Honeywell. Additionally, pintles for Aerojet s JDRADM RJC design will be fabricated for hot fire testing.