SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  AF071-124 (AirForce)
Title:  Nanocomposites for Electrically Conductive Organic Matrix Composites
Research & Technical Areas:  Air Platform, Materials/Processes

 The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 3.5.b.(7) of the solicitation.
  STATEMENT OF INTENT: Develop organic matrix composites
  Objective:  Develop organic matrix composites containing nanoconstituents to replace astrostrike for lightening strike protection on aircraft and engine structures at lower weight and manufacturing cost.
  Description:  With the increased use of composites on military aircraft, there is an increased challenge to provide a conductive path for protection from lightning strike. Currently, metallic-coated carbon fibers or metallic screen materials impart electrical conductivity to the composite surface at a significant weight penalty. The use of conductive carbon nanofibers, carbon nanotubes, or metallic nanofilamentary materials may maintain the current level of lightning strike protection while reducing weight and cost due to a reduced number of manufacturing steps. Another benefit to aircraft may be a reduction in complexity of a repair to the composite upon a lightning strike. As part of this program, the contractor may consider lightning strike protection for aircraft structural componants and/or non-metallic engine components. At the completion of Phase I, manufacturing approaches for incorporating the nanomaterials would be developed, and the resulting composites would be tested for mechanical and electrical properties. Subcomponents may also be manufactured and tested for electrical characteristics and mechanical properties. Selection of the most favorable materials and processes would be required at the end of Phase I, along with an estimate of the expected weight savings. In Phase II, these materials/processes will be used to build structural demonstration articles for lightning strike test and analysis. It is desired that an undamaged demonstration article be delivered at the end of Phase II for additional testing and characterization by the government. A cost estimate, estimate of weight savings, and draft material and process specifications would be required at the end of Phase II. At the completion of Phase II, full scale demonstration panels would be evaluated for lightning strike protection in a specialized facility.

  PHASE I: Demonstrate the feasibility of using nanoconstituents to provide lightning strike protection at a lower weight and manufacturing cost over state-of-the-art systems such as “Astrostrike” by evaluating candidate materials and manufacturing processes, and building and testing subcomponents.
  
  PHASE II: Further evaluation and test of the most favorable materials and processes will result in the production and testing of a structural component(s) incorporating the nanocomposite lightning strike system. Draft material and process specifications will be required.

  DUAL USE COMMERCIALIZATION: Military application: Military aircraft and engine structure and satellite structures. Commercial application: Ground-based weather and radar systems, commercial aviation, commercial satellite structures.

  References:  1. Vapor Grown Carbon Nanofiber Materials And Applications Workshop held 14-15 September 2004, Kettering, Ohio

Keywords:  conductive polymers, nanotechnology, fiber reinforced composites, matrix materials, electrical properties, lightning protection

Additional Information, Corrections, References, etc:
Ref #1: Per the TPOC, this is one of the presentations from the reference that has the best relevance to this topic.Aerospace K. Strong.pdf
Ref #1: Per the TPOC, this is one of the presentations from the reference that has the best relevance to this topic.Aerospace K. Strong.pdf

Questions and Answers:
Q: 1. Is there a specific polymer matrix that should be used in these composites?

2. Is this composite expected to provide structrual support, or will it only be a "top layer" or coating on exhisting aircraft panels?
A: 1. Any structural resin polymer matrix is OK with properties similar to aerospace grade epoxy such as EPON 862/W (Resolution Performance Products), VRM34 (Hexcel), or 977-3 (Cytec). Bismaleimides and polyimide composites would also be OK.

2. The base composite should provide structural support, and any modifications to it should not impact mechanical properties negatively. However, the electrically conductive surface layer is not required to provide structural support, just basic integrity, not delaminating or being damaged easily. If the proposer is going with an integrated approach of a layer within the composite surface, then new panels would be fabricated. Another approach would be to develop a coating applied to existing aircraft panels. Either are valid and may improve protection.
Q: What aircraft platforms currently employ "Astrostrike" and should a replacement solution also be applicable to composite helicopter structures?
A: . . . response pending . . .
Q: 1. Is there a specific polymer matrix that should be used in these composites?

2. Is this composite expected to provide structrual support, or will it only be a "top layer" or coating on exhisting aircraft panels?
A: 1. Any structural resin polymer matrix is OK with properties similar to aerospace grade epoxy such as EPON 862/W (Resolution Performance Products), VRM34 (Hexcel), or 977-3 (Cytec). Bismaleimides and polyimide composites would also be OK.

2. The base composite should provide structural support, and any modifications to it should not impact mechanical properties negatively. However, the electrically conductive surface layer is not required to provide structural support, just basic integrity, not delaminating or being damaged easily. If the proposer is going with an integrated approach of a layer within the composite surface, then new panels would be fabricated. Another approach would be to develop a coating applied to existing aircraft panels. Either are valid and may improve protection.
Q: What aircraft platforms currently employ "Astrostrike" and should a replacement solution also be applicable to composite helicopter structures?
A: . . . response pending . . .

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