Approach for Achieving Flame Retardancy While Retaining Physical Properties in a Compatible Polymer Matrix

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) seeks to license its Advanced Fire Retardant Materials to industry. KSC’s scientists have developed processes and know-how to impart fire retardancy to common polymers such as nylons, polyesters, and acrylics. NASA developed this technology for use in personnel protective systems for launch pad personnel engaged in hazardous materials (HAZMAT) operations. The invention provides polymer blends containing polyhydroxyamide and one or more flammable polymers. The polymer blends are flame-retardant and have improved durability and heat stability compared to the flammable polymer portion of the blends.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Polymers, Fire, Protective equipment

Metal/Fiber Laminate and Fabrication Using a Porous Metal/Fiber Preform

This technology can be used in aeronautics, pressure vessels and storage tanks, ballistic protection, automotive structures, and composite doors and windows.

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a new technique to enable the preparation of metal/composite hybrid laminates, also known as fiber metal laminates (FML), by depositing metal directly onto fabric using a plasma deposition process. FMLs provide a useful combination of structural and functional properties for both aerospace and non-aerospace applications. Currently, FMLs are prepared in a compression process utilizing a press or autoclave with metallic layers (foils) sandwiched between layers of glass or graphite prepreg (preimpregnated fibers with a matrix resin). The NASA process deposits the metal on the fiber via plasma deposition. The porosity of the coated fabric allows for resin infusion.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Composite materials, Fabrics, Metals, Resins

Method for Exfoliation of Hexagonal Boron Nitride

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a method for exfoliating commercially available hexagonal Boron Nitride (hBN) into nanosheets a few atomic layers thick. Currently, hBN has limited use because it is insoluble with limited dispersibility, despite hBN having excellent thermal conductivity and electrical insulation. Langley’s novel method provides for exfoliated hBN nanosheets that are soluble or suspendable in a variety of solvents, allowing for their bulk preparation and incorporation into composites, coatings, and films.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Composite materials, Conductivity, Insulation, Nanomaterials

Sucrose-Treated Carbon Nanotube and Graphene Yarns and Sheets

Applications include structural materials for aerospace vehicles, space habitats, and lightweight but mechanically robust consumer devices.

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a method to consolidate carbon nanotube yarns and woven sheets and graphene sheets via the dehydration of sucrose. The resulting materials are lightweight and high strength. Sucrose is relatively inexpensive and readily available; therefore the process is cost-effective.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fibers, Materials properties, Nanomaterials

Method for Manufacturing a Thin Film Structural System

Applications include Earth- and space-based inflatable structures, and chemical and radiation sensors.

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a technology that uses commercially available additive print manufacturing to add various levels of structural hierarchy to thin-film surfaces. The approach adds very little mass to thin films, but provides substantial performance enhancements, such as increased damage tolerance to tearing and ripping. NASA developed this technology to provide new and improved ways to produce robust, ultra-lightweight space structures such as solar sails, solar shades, and antennas. Beyond space applications, the technology is well suited for other thin-film applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Additive manufacturing, Lightweight materials

Integrated Ceramic Matrix Composite-Carbon/Carbon Structures for Large Rocket Engine Nozzles and Nozzle Extensions

The material system could be used in rocket propulsion components in which temperature, environmental reactivity, and economy are increasingly demanding.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

Low-cost access to space demands durable, cost-effective, efficient, and low-weight propulsion systems. Key components include boost and upper stage rocket engine nozzles and extensions. Nozzle material options include ablatives, actively cooled alloys, and radiation-cooled composites and metals, each of which has known limitations. Metallic nozzles have high density and limited temperature capability. Carbon/carbon (C/C) is an attractive alternative, but has manufacturability, oxidation resistance, and joining ability concerns.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Product development, Ceramics, Composite materials, Nozzles, Rocket engines

Aromatic Thermosetting coPolyester (ATSP) Composites for High-Temperature and Cryogenic Applications

This family of polymers has utility in diverse applications ranging from structural composites to circuit boards, wear-resistant coatings, and rigid structural foams.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

Advanced composite materials processable by cost-effective manufacturing play an important role in developing lightweight structures for future space and planetary exploration missions. With the growing demand for improved performance in the aerospace sector, advances in polymer systems with extreme thermomechanical properties are critical in providing excellent retention of performance in high-temperature environments, and high resistance to microcracking at cryogenic temperatures.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Composite materials, Polymers, Lightweighting

Ultralow-Temperature-Operable Solid Propellant Binder

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

A unique binder was developed that exhibits a glass transition temperature of –100 °C, which is more than 50 °C lower than that of traditional HTPB (hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene) and CTPB (carboxyl-terminated polybutadiene) binders. This innovation would be a solid propellant that would ameliorate low-temperature operability problems for the two-stage Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV).

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Cold weather, Solid propellants, Spacecraft fuel

Carbon Nanotube-Assisted Microwave Healing of Thermally Re-Mendable Composites

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

A method creates thermally healable composites using carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotube microwave heating provides a pathway to overcome issues associated with electrical resistive heating networks. Carbon nanotubes embedded within a thermally reversible polymer can be heated by direct exposure to a microwave source. The heat generated by the nanotubes can drive the thermally reversible polymerization of the matrix. Because the microwave source can be focused, the composite can be locally heated at the point of damage thereby reducing the energy requirements for thermal healing. The carbon nanotubes can conform to any shape, allowing the manufacture of complex shapes without concern of damaging the heating network.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Composite materials, Nanotechnology, Radiation

Aluminoborosilicate Supplement for Thermal Protection of a Re-entrant Vehicle

This material can be used in aircraft, turbine engines, automobiles, and any application that requires thermal protection surfaces.

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

The Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Com posite (TUFROC) allows for much more affordable and sustainable operations involving Space Launch Services and other systems that utilize Earth reentry vehicles. TUFROC has an exposed surface design and appropriate materials combination that will allow a space vehicle to survive both the mechanical stresses of the initial ascent, and the extreme heating and stress of re-entry. It provides a thermal protection tile attachment system that is suitable for application to a space vehicle leading edge, and for other uses in extreme heating environments (up to 3600 °F, and possibly higher, for short time intervals).

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Thermal management, Thermal management, Composite materials, Entry, descent, and landing, Spacecraft

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