Carbon-carbon composites (C/C) are currently used as hot structures in a variety of extreme environments encountered during rocket launch, hypersonic flight, 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 II project we will develop manufacturing capability for a novel resin so that C/C composites can be made in days to weeks, instead of months. This resin has the potential to eliminate multiple densification cycles, yet result 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 resin system will be used for rapid manufacturing of high quality C/C hot structures. Our initial target application will be lightweight nozzle extensions for in-space propulsion systems, Lunar/Mars ascent/descent vehicles, and upper stage rocket engines. Subsequent applications may include nuclear thermal rockets, hot gas valves and hypersonic combustors/aeroshells. TDA’s process will shorten development and procurement schedules, thereby providing substantial cost savings to all programs that utilize our C/C.
Several DoD agencies, including the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) would benefit from improved C/C manufacturing for their launch and hypersonic vehicle programs, which make extensive use of C/C hot structures as acreage panels and in the combustor. C/C parts are also of interest to gas turbine manufacturers like General Electric.