Innovative Integration of Carbon Foam and Aerogel

Period of Performance: 06/04/2004 - 12/04/2004

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd.
The Millennium Centre Array
Triadelphia, WV 26059
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Lightweight and structurally strong carbon foam will be integrated with an inexpensive, super insulating carbon or silica aerogel resulting in a new material that, when combined, will increase performance over either material individually. MDA has a need for thermal protection systems to withstand enormous shear stresses of hypersonic flight for rapid global deployment of munitions payloads. Touchstone has developed and brought to market a lightweight, strong carbon foam that is inexpensive to manufacture. While this material has good insulating properties, combining it with an aerogel - the lightest and most insulating solid known to exist - will yield strong, lightweight super insulation that can be used as thermal protection for munitions deployment vehicles and payloads. Due to some manufacturing similarities and inherent open-celled structure of carbon foam, the potential for combining the two materials will mean lower costs and quicker production cycles for this new composite material. Phase I work will prove technical feasibility of aerogel infiltration of carbon foam, including thermal and mechanical testing. Integration of the two inexpensive manufacturing processes will result in Phase II focusing on pilot-scale manufacturing and identification of possible reductions in overall production times and equipment requirements. Low manufacturing costs of carbon foam together with a low-cost aerogel process will ultimately allow for feasible insertion into ballistic missile defense technologies.