A program led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory seeks tough electron-beam-curable resins that can resist external forces on carbon-fiber-reinforced composites.
The lab and 11 companies need to overcome a materials hurdle if they want to develop lower-cost polymer matrix composites to replace steel in airplanes, spacecraft and automobiles.
``The apparent interlaminar shear strength is lower than desirable for most aerospace and aircraft applications,'' Cliff Eberle, project manager, said by telephone from his Oak Ridge, Tenn., office. ``Why are those properties not as good as we expect?''
Under a $3.2 million cooperative research and development agreement, the program aims to identify radiation-curable materials that can resist twisting or cutting forces. Traditional manufacturing methods, such as autoclave curing, produce composites better able to withstand those forces but at higher cost than e-beam curing.
An earlier R&D co-op developed cationically curable epoxies with good properties, but further development work is needed, Eberle said. The new, three-year program began in April.
The Energy Department's laboratory technology research program is providing $750,000; the U.S. Air Force, $150,000; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, $100,000.
Industry will provide $2.2 million, mostly through in-kind services and materials. Partners include aircraft manufacturers Boeing Co.'s Phantom Works in Seattle and Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Tactical Aircraft Systems in Fort Worth, Texas.
Material suppliers are Adherent Technologies Inc. of Albuquerque; Applied Poleramic Inc. of Benicia, Calif.; BP Amoco plc's chemicals unit in Alpharetta, Ga.; Hexcel Corp.'s carbon fibers unit in Salt Lake City; UCD Chemicals Corp.'s Radcure unit in Smyrna, Ga.; and YLA Inc.'s prepreg operation, also in Benicia.
Irradiators are Acsion Industries Inc. of Pinawa, Manitoba; E-Beam Services Inc. of Plainview, N.Y.; and Steris Isomedix Services of Whippany, N.J.
Michigan State University's composite materials and structures center is another participant.
Lockheed Martin's Energy Research Corp. manages Oak Ridge for the Energy Department.