Flexible Composite-Material Pressure Vessel

A proposed lightweight pressure vessel would be made of a composite of high-tenacity continuous fibers and a flexible matrix material. The flexibility of this pressure vessel would render it (1) compactly stowable for transport and (2) more able to withstand impacts, relative to lightweight pressure vessels made of rigid composite materials. The vessel would be designed as a structural shell wherein the fibers would be predominantly bias-oriented, the orientations being optimized to make the fibers bear the tensile loads in the structure. Such efficient use of tension-bearing fibers would minimize or eliminate the need for stitching and fill (weft) fibers for strength. The vessel could be fabricated by techniques adapted from filament winding of prior composite-material vessels, perhaps in conjunction with the use of dry film adhesives. In addition to the high-bias main-body substructure described above, the vessel would include a low-bias end substructure to complete coverage and react peak loads. Axial elements would be overlaid to contain damage and to control fiber orientation around side openings. Fiber ring structures would be used as interfaces for connection to ancillary hardware.

This work was done by Glen Brown, Roy Haggard, and Paul A. Harris of Vertigo, Inc., for Johnson Space Center. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Materials category. MSC-23020.

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