NASA sees potential in composite cryotank

PLASTICS & RUBBER WEEKLY

Published: July 5, 2013 10:35 pm ET
Updated: July 5, 2013 10:37 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Aerospace

Successful tests of an all-composite cryogenic fuel tank for space launch vehicles hold promise for lower-cost access to space, perhaps before the decade is out.

A small composite fuel tank fabricated by Boeing with funding from the "game-changing" program of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate contained 2,091 gallons. of liquid hydrogen through a series of shifts in its internal pressure and three temperature cycles ranging from ambient down to minus 423F.

The June 25 test at Marshall Space Flight Center with a 2.4-meter-diameter composite fuel tank paves the way for more tests next spring. That test will subject a 5.5-metre tank to flight-like mechanical loads as well as temperature and pressure cycles.

It appears the project is achieving its goal of reducing the cost of building tanks by at least 25 percent from that of conventional aluminum-lithium tanks, while cutting the weight of tanks made from the lightweight aluminum alloy by at least 30 percent.

"This is a very difficult problem," says Mike Gazarik, associate administrator for space technology. "Composites and cryos don't work well together, and these guys have done incredible work in figuring out how to design and how to fabricate these tanks."

"It performed nominally, and nominally is a very good thing for us," said John Vickers, project manager on the composite cryogenic tank technology demonstration project at Marshall.

Next up for testing will be a 5.5-metre diameter tank already in fabrication at the Boeing Advanced Development Centre in Tukwila, Wash.

Both test tanks are built up with thin-ply composites that don't require a pressurized autoclave for curing. The out-of-autoclave fabrication helps hold the cost down, says Dan Rivera, Boeing's project manager on the tanks, while the thin-ply approach, already in use on satellite structures and other Boeing products, prevents microcracking that causes leaks.


Comments

NASA sees potential in composite cryotank

PLASTICS & RUBBER WEEKLY

Published: July 5, 2013 10:35 pm ET
Updated: July 5, 2013 10:37 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Large part molder EnviroTech in 'growth mode,' adds space, equipment

November 26, 2014 9:54 am ET

Salt Lake City-based EnviroTech Molded Products Inc. is adding new equipment and expanding its factory as it gains business in some of its...    More

Image

Electronics, aerospace driving new Aptiv film production for Victrex

November 18, 2014 9:40 am ET

Victrex plc has launched production at its new $25 million manufacturing facility for high performance thermoplastic film Aptiv, with the United...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events