NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-1 X10.01-9681
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Detachable, Human-rated, Ablative Environmentally Compliant TPS
PROPOSAL TITLE: Infiltration of Carbon Foam for Mid-Density Ablative Thermal Protection Systems

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd.
The Millenium Centre, RR 1, Box 100B
Triadelphia, WV 26059 - 9707
(304) 547-5800

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Harry E. Danford
Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd.
Triadelphia, WV 26059 - 9707
(304) 547-5800

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 3 to 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
This proposal addresses NASA's need for improved TPS materials. The incumbent CEV heatshield TPS for Orion's Block II lunar return is PICA, a low-density carbon fiber infiltrated with phenolic resin. Variants of PICA with improved thermomechanical properties would benefit future missions. This effort will create a series of "mid-density" ablative materials to fill the gap between low-density PICA and high-density Carbon-Carbon. Touchstone's carbon foam (CFOAMREG) has excellent thermomechanical properties, can be tailored to a range of densities (12 to 95 lbs/cu-ft), and has an open-cell structure allowing infiltration of high-temperature materials. Aspen Aerogels recently completed a Phase II subcontract with Touchstone demonstrating the capability of fully infiltrating CFOAMREG with phloroglucinol-furfuraldehyde carbon aerogels with chemistry similar to PICA's.

Phase I will use carbon aerogel infiltration in CFOAMREG samples of 3 densities from 17 to 35 lb/cu-ft to be calcined at Touchstone to carbonize the aerogel, creating a mass of amorphous carbon within the pore structure. Filling CFOAMREG pores with pure carbon yields an inherent reduction in the TPS radiant heat transfer. Fully carbonized samples will be re-infiltrated with PICA phenolic resin, and sample characterization will be conducted via SEM to demonstrate the capability of producing small-scale Carbon Foam-Aerogel/Phenolic composites at various densities. At the end of Phase I, the TRL will be 3-4 and then 4-5 by the conclusion of Phase II.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Larger vehicle size and entry conditions of future NASA missions demand TPS materials beyond the PICA ablator in use since the 1976 Viking mission. This proposed effort will provide significant benefit to NASA by introducing a new class of TPS materials critical to upcoming explorations. With tailoring capability, the material has potential to create a suite of ablative TPS materials that can be chosen based on aerothermal conditions and density requirements of particular missions.

The Astrobiology Mission to Mars is a new robotic sample return initiative where larger vehicles and higher re-entry speeds produce more severe combined environments (turbulent flow, combined convective and radiative heating rates) than previous missions. The ESMD Orion Block III crew exploration vehicle (Mars return) is a future NASA mission with the heatshield's TPS material to be determined. The TPS material challenge is that the heating rates will be five times greater than for lunar return.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The benefits of this effort stand to be of enormous value not only to NASA but also to the Department of Defense. The potential exists to use these (ablative) TPS materials for the U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command (SMDC) as thermal protection components of next-generation hypersonic weapon systems such as Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) and the Advanced Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (AHGV).

Large aerospace contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon stand to benefit from the development of these new TPS material solutions by providing new TPS technologies at a manufacturable scale to support key DoD initiatives.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Launch and Flight Vehicle
Thermal Insulating Materials

Form Generated on 09-18-07 17:50