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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Cryogenic Composite Tank Fabrication for Reusable Launch Vehicles

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Cryogenic Composite Tank Fabrication for Reusable Launch Vehicles
XCOR has conducted extensive research and development, and material characterization analysis of a nonflammable, high-strength, lightweight thermoplastic fluoropolymer composite material, trademarked NonburniteTM, which is suitable for making reusable, reliable, low cost cryogenic tanks and structures for space flight service. XCOR's composite material is lighter than metal, and unlike graphite/epoxy, nonflammable. The material is immune to microcracking, has a low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), and is capable of withstanding hundreds of cryogenic temperature cycles. Additionally, it is durable, repairable, and can withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures. The fluoropolymer composite maintains strength and flexibility at extreme temperatures (-260 to plus 280 degrees C/-436 to plus 536 degrees F).Low CTE also allows this composite to be built into a vehicle's primary structure. Used as the internal skin in a sandwich structure (Nonburnite, foam, and carbon/epoxy) the composite skin-foam-skin material provides both thermal insulation and structure. These features, along with the high strength-to-weight ratio, make it an enabling technology for building lighter, highly reusable, and more robust propellant tanks, thus reducing need for maintenance between flights. Further, XCOR believes significant commercialization opportunities exist for the material after its manufacturing processes have matured. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

Technology Transitions

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.