Carbon-carbon composites (C/C) are currently used as hot structures in a variety of extreme environments encountered during hypersonic flight, rocket launch and atmospheric entry, descent and landing. Their use is limited by their expensive and time-consuming manufacturing process. Delivery times of over six months from order placement are common, a result of the long manufacturing process and the limited number of suppliers. Building on our demonstrated expertise in carbon manufacturing and commercialization, in this Phase I project we will properly formulate the resin so that C/C composites can be made in days to weeks, instead of months. The process that eliminates multiple densification cycles, yet results in composites with equivalent mechanical and thermal properties to the current state-of-the-art. With the domestic need for C/C parts increasing, TDA believes that there is a currently an outstanding opportunity to enter the C/C manufacturing market. TDA has a demonstrated history of manufacturing resins with high char yields, and we propose to build on that experience to economically manufacture resins that have been demonstrated to produce strong chars in exceptionally high yield.
The proposed improved C/C manufacturing process would be used for hot structures, including upper stage rocket engines (including those of the Space Launch System), in-space propulsion systems, Lunar/Mars ascent/descent propulsion, nuclear thermal rockets, and hot gas valves. Hot structures allow for reduced vehicle weight and/or reusability in a variety of exploration and sample return missions. TDA’s process will shorten development and procurement schedules, thereby providing substantial cost savings to all programs that utilize our C/C.
The Air Force, Navy, Army, and Missile Defense Agency would benefit from improved C/C manufacturing for their hypersonic vehicle programs, which make extensive use of C/C hot structures. The Air Force could also apply our process to their Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) and ballistic missile programs. C/C parts are also of interest to gas turbine manufacturers like General Electric.