NASA 1996 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER : 96-1 04.01-4000

PROJECT TITLE : Net Shape Fabrication of Nickel Based Composites for RLV Engine Components

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

Nickel based materials are expected to have excellent resistance to flammability. The application of nickel and b-NiAl composites to advanced rocket engine components is currently limited due to the lack of a fabrication process that can produce complex shaped parts at an acceptable cost. During Phase I, Foster-Miller will demonstrate an innovative process to fabricate quality Ni-alloy and b-NiAl matrix composite components. Strong points of our process include:

* Low processing temperatures, thereby eliminating interface reactions between the Saphikon alumina fiber and the matrix.
* Suitability to fabricate complex shapes to a net shape.
* Versatility in terms of allowable fibers and matrix alloys.
* Scalability and affordability.

The alumina based fiber will be used as the reinforcement. Process parameters to produce a homogeneous matrix without causing interface reaction products, will be identified. The Phase I will include environmental testing of the composite specimen and single fiber tensile testing. A component of interest to RLV engines will be selected for development through Phases I and II. A component manufacturer and an end-user (rocket engine producer) will be closely involved so as to produce a technology with near-term implementation potential.

The follow-on Phase II program will demonstrate reproducibility of high mechanical properties in nickel based composite specimens after process optimization. Later, a complex-shaped demonstration article of interest to NASA system(s) will be fabricated and evaluated against the baseline component in terms of performance, weight and cost.

POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS
Our fabrication process will provide a net shape, low cost route to produce reinforced Ni and b-NiAl components with a >2,000oF service temperature capability. Application to the aeroengine compressor structures will produce large improvements in engine efficiency and performance. Other applications will be in high performance automotive engines, e.g. in pistons and turbocharger rotors; and for hot components in nuclear, oil drilling and mining equipment.
NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR
Mr. Uday Kashlikar
Foster-Miller, Inc.,
350 Second Avenue,
Waltham, MA 02154-1196
NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR
Foster-Miller, Inc.,
350 Second Avenue,
Waltham, MA 02154-1196