A document discusses a puncture self-healing polymer for space exploration that is capable of puncture healing upon impact. Puncture healing occurs instantaneously, providing mechanical property retention in lightweight structures.

The main goal was not only to develop a new polymeric system that is puncture self-healing, but to provide a wider temperature window of puncture self-healing capability than that of commercially produced material. The commercially available polymer, poly(butadiene)-graft-poly(methyl acrylate-co-acrylonitrile) (PB-g-PMA-co-A) was chosen for these studies. PB-g-PMA-co-A is a thermoplastic polymer with good gas barrier properties, excellent chemical resistance, high film clarity, and scratch resistance. It is a highly amorphous polymer with a glass transition temperature at 87 °C and a melt flow rate at 12 g/10 min. It is currently used in packaging containers. PB-g-PMA-co-A has a flexible segment in poly(butadiene) and a tough segment in poly(methyl acrylate-coacrylonitrile), which is conceptually similar in structure to the commercially produced material.

PB-g-PMA-co-A demonstrates puncture self-healing capability at a wider use temperature (40–100 °C) than that of any currently available puncture healing polymers. The puncture healing capability of PB-g-PMA-co-A improves with temperature. It can be used to provide a route for improved damage tolerance in load-bearing structures and a means of self-mitigation/ reliability with respect to overall vehicle health and aircraft durability.

This work was done by Keith L. Gordon, Emilie J. Siochi, and Dennis Working of Langley Research Center. LAR-17706-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2014 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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