The development of new hypersonic (faster than Mach 5) vehicles is a high priority for the U.S., but the capabilities of existing sealing materials and components are stressed by the conditions of hypersonic flight. Hypersonic vehicles require sealing materials between individual body panels and components of the weapons structure and propulsion system, including around dynamic flaps and rudders. Current state-of-the-art high temperature thermal seals are often made from ceramic oxide fibers that are easily abraded at room temperature, even more so at sustained, elevated temperatures. An abraded seal can lead to higher leak rates, increased temperatures, and decreased life-span (increased cost). There is a need to improve the abrasion resistance of these seals without significantly reducing their other desirable characteristics (e.g., flexibility, temperature capability, flow-blocking). To that end, Jackson Bond Enterprises LLC (JBE) proposes the following in Phase I. First, JBE will partner with prime contractors and NASA stakeholders to research and identify potential abrasion resistant coatings and down-select the most promising coating types. JBE has already identified two potential coating types in this proposal. Second, JBE will manufacture coupons representative of high temperature seals and apply the chosen coatings. Third, JBE will utilize in-house capability to perform abrasion testing on the coupons to determine the effectiveness of the coatings vs. baseline state-of-the art seals. As a result of the work done in Phase I, one or more coatings will be identified, applied, tested for abrasion resistance, and either accepted or rejected for additional (Phase II) testing and development.
Improved high-temperature seals would provide increased capability wherever seals are currently utilized such as reusable space vehicles and high-speed propulsion systems. According to NASA’s HT Project website: “In the near-term, application of hypersonics research and technologies is likely to be on enhanced defense systems, but this could eventually expand to include improved access to space capabilities that would directly benefit NASA.”
Near-term, the target market is DOD airbreathing hypersonic products such as the HAWC, TBG, CPS, and reusable ISR platforms and hypersonic delivery vehicles. Long-term applications include commercial hypersonic aircraft that enable transcontinental flights for day long business trips.