Hybrid Composite Porous Structural Insulators

Period of Performance: 11/17/2011 - 08/17/2012


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

12173 Montague Street Array
Pacoima, CA 91331
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

SRI International
333 Ravenswood Avenue Mail stop: 306-17
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Institution POC


ABSTRACT: Future Air Force as well as other DoD and NASA missions require structural composites capable of enduring peak hot surface temperatures of 3000°F or higher while providing cold face temperatures of 600°F or lower to prevent damage to underlying structures and components. Potential missions that would benefit from or be enabled by materials and structures with such capability include reentry, space access, and hypersonic vehicles including high-Mach missiles. Such capabilities are potentially achievable using lightweight hybrid composites that offer high specific strength and stiffness in combination with load-bearing insulating structures comprising low-density materials with multiple scales of porosity to achieve targeted thermal and mechanical properties. To address these requirements, Ultramet has integrated a world-class team of partners that brings all requisite skills and experience needed to design, analyze, and develop an innovative class of materials comprising hybrid ceramic-polymer matrix composite facesheets, to meet operating environment demands, and low-density porous insulating structures with controlled, hierarchical porosity to provide underlying structure and the needed temperature drop in a volume- and weight-efficient package. To control risk and enhance the likelihood of success, it should be noted that each element has been demonstrated by the team members in prior work with the result that the proposed effort will focus upon integration, rather than development, of these discrete elements. For initial demonstration of the technology, the team proposes to address a Mach 6 endoatmospheric missile or hypersonic vehicle application as a baseline, but the technology is adaptable to a much broader range of applications once proven successful. BENEFIT: The proposed project will provide capabilities directly of interest for lightweight and cost-effective Mach 6 vehicles. Successful integration of the key elements of the structure (operating environment-compatible surface layers, hybrid composite structures, and tailored, hierarchical porosity insulators) could then be readily adapted to a range of other applications in that each element of the structure could be optimized with respect to the specific use requirements. Foreseeable other applications include reentry vehicles, for both space and defense, and reusable space exploration structures. Such structures could also be adapted to propulsion components and to selected chemical process components that are confronted by extreme environment demands.