Carbon-carbon composites (C/C) are currently used as hot structures in a variety of extreme environments encountered during hypersonic flight, rocket launch and atmospheric entry, descent and landing. Their use is limited by their expensive and time-consuming manufacturing process. Delivery times of over six months from order placement are common, a result of the long manufacturing process and the limited number of suppliers. With the domestic need for C/C parts increasing, TDA believes that there is a currently an outstanding opportunity to enter the C/C manufacturing market. We have previously developed a process for economical manufacture of a non-graphitizing resin with an exceedingly high char yield. We now propose to use our demonstrated expertise in carbon manufacturing and commercialization to properly formulate and then utilize our resin to make C/C in days to weeks, instead of months. TDA has therefore proposed a process that eliminates multiple densification cycles while arriving at the same density of the finished product, with equivalent mechanical and thermal properties.
Our rapid C/C manufacturing process would be used for hot structures for a variety of propulsion systems, including those used for in-space, Lunar/Mars ascent/descent, separation/attitude control, nuclear thermal, and upper stage rocket engines (including the Space Launch System's). Improved hot structures, as enabled by our technology, reduce vehicle weight and/or reusability in many exploration and sample return missions. Our process shortens development and procurement schedules, providing cost savings to all programs utilizing our C/C.
The Air Force, Navy, Army, and Missile Defense Agency hypersonics programs would benefit from rapid C/C manufacturing, since C/C hot structures are used as acreage panels and in the combustors. The Air Force would apply the proposed technology to their Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) and ballistic missile programs. C/C parts are also of interest to gas turbine manufacturers.