The patterned electrospinning process used to provide the ripstop reinforcement is likely to have multiple space applications to promote lighter weight membranes with robust mechanical properties. Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) may be fabricated with thinner metallized films through the use of electrospun ripstop and eliminating the scrim. The electrospun fibers would act to prevent thermal shorts for the MLI, while reducing weight from lower film thickness and removal of the scrim. In addition, PSI has demonstrated the use of patterned electrospinning to correct optical aberrations for inflatable membrane optics. Other space applications include reinforcement for membrane systems including nanofiber filters, barrier membranes and gas diffusion electrodes. We are working with NeXolve, manufacturers of space durable films, on the proposed program. The electrospinning reinforcement could be incorporated into NeXolve's film casting line. NeXolve's may provide a customer for the electrospinning process as a value added technology for their space film business.
Many non-commercial uses of membrane technology could benefit from the nanofiber reinforcement provided by the electropun ripstop process. Separator membranes for batteries could be made thinner, while maintaining robustness and resistance to electrode shorting using electrospun reinforcement. Filters made of nanofibers, such as HEPA filters, would have high mechanical strength and lower pressure drop through the use of nanofiber ripstop. Other applications for electropsun reinforcement may include barrier membranes for chemical agents, enhanced robustness for gas separation membranes, and improved thermal film insulation. PSI has strong working relationships with Espin technologies and Donaldson Corp., both commercial manufacturers of electrospun materials and potential partners for the nanofiber reinforcement development proposed in the document.