The inherent microwave property of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) generates the thermal energy required to induce reversible polymerization of the matrix in these self-healing composites. Microwaves will be used to demonstrate advanced composite manufacturing and repair using self-healing composites.
The Microwave Assisted Composite Manufacturing and Repair (MACMAR) project leverages on the previous work on self-healing composites that shows the addition of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) enhances the healing process while introducing multifunctional properties. The inherent microwave property of the CNTs generates the thermal energy required to induce reversible polymerization of the matrix in these composites. The primary goal of MACMAR is to show that microwaves can be used to bond composite panels. These self-healing composites could be exploited for composite welding, curing and damage repair. The ability to remove post-manufacturing defects or impact induced damage could lead to improved damage tolerance. Microwave assisted welding and curing could lead to more cost effective composite manufacturing and potentially significant cost savings by reducing/eliminating tools and fastened joints.
Partnerships: This work is a collaborative effort between other NASA centers, other federal agencies and small business. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is supporting with additional characterization of the composite welds. Langley Research Center (LaRC) is providing collaborative consultation on composite manufacturing and specifications. A small business, nanoComposix is assisting with self-healing composite fabrication. Composite welding, characterization and testing is performed at JSC.More »
NASA funded missions could benefit from the use of lightweight materials and structures that are damage tolerant and multifunctional. This technology could lead to the manufacture of structural components without the need for traditional composite tooling. The composite response to microwave energy may also allow the potential for structural health monitoring. The proposed technology has a broad potential for infusion. Any vehicle, habitat, or other structure built of composites would benefit from this technology. It could be used for primary or secondary structures in the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, Commercial Crew Development, Space Launch Systems or other Space Exploration Systems (Habitats, Rovers, Probes, etc.).
These composite materials offer significant mass savings with reduced manufacturing time and operational costs. Processing with microwave energy could lead to significantly less processing time during composite manufacturing (minutes compared to hours of cure time and eliminate the use of traditional adhesives and tooling). The operational costs can be reduced by minimizing down time due to repair or replacement material and uses less energy. The multifunctional nature and healing capability of the composite can offer improvements in electrostatic dissipation, thermal management, radiation shielding, structural health monitoring, micrometeoroid impact mitigation and restricted gas permeation.More »
|Organizations Performing Work||Role||Type||Location|
|Johnson Space Center (JSC)||Lead Organization||NASA Center||Houston, TX|
|Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)||Supporting Organization||U.S. Government|
|Langley Research Center (LaRC)||Supporting Organization||NASA Center||Hampton, VA|
|nanoComposix, Inc.||Industry||San Diego, CA|