Manufacturing Oriented Nanocomposites

Period of Performance: 06/27/2003 - 03/27/2004

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Cornerstone Research Group, Inc.
16 ?North Camino Miramonte
Tucson, AZ 85716
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Cornerstone Research Group, Inc., (CRG) proposes to develop a high specific strength nano-reinforced material using high volume-fractions of reinforcements and a low-cost manufacturing process. This process will align the nanofibers and enable pre-stressing each individual nanofiber as in traditional high strength composites. Similar achievements with traditional composites have resulted in the current state of the art that exists today. CRG proposes to develop materials and processes to accomplish these tasks while maintaining affordability. With the development of this technology, the possibility exists for rapidly and inexpensively manufacturing high performance rocket motor casings with a high speed manufacturing production line. Other approaches to achieving high strength using carbon nanofibers or tubes are focused on detailed scientific optimization of treatments to achieve the best suited end groups for polymer adhesion or very expensive and highly non-practical alignment methods that create incredible manufacturing problems. Furthermore, most treatment processes are not developed to a scale necessary to yield enough treated nanofibers for composite processing investigations. Unfortunately these approaches have kept carbon nanofiber technology in the laboratory rather than transitioning it to applications. This approach will remove the development from the lab into manufacturing in the near term. The benefits associated with the development of this concept will be overwhelming. First, the Air Force will accomplish increased range and/or payload of propulsion systems by reducing the inert weight and increasing the internal pressure capability of possibly all rocket motor systems while simultaneously reducing costs. Outside of the propulsion community the benefits of this new materials development will be witnessed with improved strength of all products where needed. The potential affordability of the material will make acceptability pervasive. Additionally, this materials technology would increase the consumption of nanofibers and nanotubes at significantly higher rates. Therefore, the forecasted cost of nanotubes may quickly be thwarted making volume production warranted and affordability near term.