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Pacoima, CA, United States

Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 80.00K | Year: 2015

As the radius of curvature of a leading edge or nosetip decreases, the drag on the body decreases, leading to more efficient flight, but the heat flux at the stagnation point increases. Hypersonic leading edges therefore require materials that can be formed into complex shapes with fine features while simultaneously being able to handle extreme temperatures and mechanical loading. In this project, Ultramet will build on previous work in which carbon fiber-reinforced silicon carbide matrix (Cf/SiC) ceramic matrix composites (CMC) with three-dimensional fiber reinforcement were fabricated with edge radii on the order of 0.010". The same fiber architecture and preforming techniques will be used, and the preform will again be densified via melt infiltration. Rather than using a SiC matrix, however, the proposed project will use matrices such as zirconium carbide (ZrC) and/or hafnium carbide (HfC), which have higher temperature capability than SiC as demonstrated by arcjet and laser testing. The result will be a sharp fiber-reinforced ceramic leading edge with excellent high temperature capability.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: In previous work for MDA and the Army, Navy, and Air Force, Ultramet demonstrated the fabrication of carbon fiber-reinforced refractory carbide matrix composites for missile and railgun projectile nosetip and aeroshell applications using a rapid, low-cost melt infiltration process. The composite materials have undergone extensive high temperature testing under laser and arcjet heating conditions and have exhibited low or no erosion when tested to nearly 2900°C. The composites have also exhibited extremely high toughness and thermal shock resistance and have good potential for operation in adverse weather. Stability in rain, snow, and hail is a critical issue for hypersonic vehicles, and Ultramet composite materials have performed very well in hydrometeor and nylon bead impact tests conducted by NASA MSFC. Coatings and conventional ceramic matrix composites (CMC) are much more prone to impact damage, whereas Ultramet CMCs have established resistance to oxidation, weather erosion, and thermal shock. In this project, Ultramet will team with aerospace systems developer and manufacturer Raytheon (component selection, requirements definition) and with Materials Research and Design (component design and analysis) to establish the feasibility of utilizing well-established melt infiltration processing of ultrahigh temperature CMC materials that offer reduced weight and increased performance as well as improved manufacturability over silicon- or boron-containing CMCs for hypersonic vehicle leading edges. Initial CMC designs will be established for the selected component(s) and a prototype will be fabricated and subjected to high temperature oxidation testing at the Air Force LHMEL facility. BENEFIT: The proposed use of rapidly manufactured high temperature ceramic matrix composite leading edge components can play a key role in achieving hypersonic vehicle manufacturability and cost goals as well as weight and performance objectives. Readily available materials that require little development time are critical. In addition to monolithic CMC structures such as nosetips and fins, the potential exists to combine the CMC with Ultramet"s structural foam insulation to produce integrated airframe/thermal protection system aeroshell structures. Ultramet CMCs, produced by a rapid, low-cost melt infiltration process, have demonstrated outstanding performance in multiple test series, including those performed under the Composites and Advanced Materials (CAM) and Hypersonic Flight Demonstration (HyFly) programs among others. Other potential aerospace applications include launch vehicle propulsion systems and aerobraking structures for planetary exploration. Potential commercial applications include high temperature, low-mass insulating structures for heat cycle and gas turbine engines, scramjet and ramjet engine components, and furnace heat recovery units (recuperators).


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: In recent work for the Air Force, Ultramet demonstrated nearly one thousand restarts with repeatable pulse performance and steady-state burn characteristics using AF-M315E monopropellant and a novel ignition system. Based on the results of that project, Ultramet received a Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) award from the Air Force to further develop the technology into a flightweight system, including qualification testing of a 22-N AF-M315E thruster by Moog-ISP to bring the technology to TRL 8. In the proposed project, Ultramet and Moog-ISP will leverage the previous and ongoing Air Force work to develop a 1-N AF-M315E-compatible cubesat monopropellant propulsion system design concept that utilizes an Ultramet chamber/nozzle, and conduct a feasibility study on a cubesat-sized AF-M315E-compatible rim-rolling metallic diaphragm tank. Scaleability of the igniter technology will also be demonstrated at the 1-N level. Phase II will involve fabrication and hot-fire testing of a flight-like cubesat monopropellant propulsion system and bring the technology to TRL 8. Phase II teaming partners will include propulsion system integrator Moog-ISP, satellite integrator Ball Aerospace, and Aerospace Corporation for technical oversight. BENEFIT: The proposed technology will eliminate the catalyst degradation and washout issues plaguing AF-M315E catalysts, make hydrazine systems more robust, and/or simplify ignition/restart of non-hypergolic propellants. Potential applications will be numerous as it will enable use of advanced monopropellants that offer performance beyond that of monopropellant hydrazine and bipropellant NTO/MMH. The ignition system can be used in attitude control and apogee engines for commercial and government satellites and divert and attitude control system engines for kinetic kill vehicles. The use of toxic propellants such as hydrazine will be eliminated in gas generators on military aircraft and fuel pressurization systems for tactical missiles. Because such a fast ramp rate and high ultimate temperature can be achieved, it may also be applicable to use in divert and attitude control systems for kinetic kill vehicles and other missile defense systems. Potential military, civil, and commercial space applications for the foam igniter system are orbit transfer, maneuvering, station keeping, and attitude control for satellites. Any agency with satellites employing hydrazine propulsion will benefit.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2015

In previous work, Ultramet demonstrated the feasibility of applying extremely low-density and thermally insulating carbon aerogel-filled open-cell carbon foam insulators for interceptor components. Those insulators had lower strength than is desired for selected applications and required impermeable structural liners or jackets, which increased component weight and volume. In this project, Ultramet will build on the prior work and investigate new, innovative, higher-strength aerogel-filled foams as insulating structures for interceptor upper stage rocket motor and homing and control propulsion applications. Intrinsically lower density and lower thermal conductivity structural foam materials will be investigated. Structures combining enhanced-strength foams, impermeable surface closeouts, and necessary ancillary materials will be designed, fabricated, and tested under representative conditions to assess and demonstrate the feasibility of this innovative new concept. Approved for Public Release 14-MDA-8047 (14 Nov 14)


Patent
Ultramet | Date: 2011-10-19

A graphite-metal carbide-rhenium article of manufacture is provided, which is suitable for use as a component in the hot zone of a rocket motor at operating temperatures in excess of approximately 3,000 degrees Celsius. One side of the metal carbide is chemically bonded to the surface of the graphite, and the rhenium containing protective coating is mechanically bonded to the other side of the metal carbide. Rhenium forms a solid solution with carbon at elevated temperatures. The metal carbide interlayer serves as a diffusion barrier to prevent carbon from migrating into contact with the rhenium containing protective coating. The metal carbide is formed by a conversion process wherein a refractory metal carbide former is allowed to react with carbon in the surface of the graphite. This structure is lighter and less expensive than corresponding solid rhenium components.

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