Title: Synthesis, characterisation and qualification of high performance phenolic/carbon random-fibre oriented ablative thermal protection composite for re-entry applications

Authors: L. Mohan Kumar; P. Chakravarthy; E.N. Anandapadmanabhan

Addresses: Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India ' Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India ' Composites Entity, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

Abstract: Ablatives are an elite class of fibre-reinforced polymer composites, which find wide applications in re-entry space vehicles, solid rocket motor nozzles, liquid engine throats, control thrusters, etc. They are synthesised from a high temperature-resistant fibre-like carbon or Silica and a high char-yielding polymeric resin like phenolics. This paper describes a novel method to synthesise a near net shape carbon phenolic ablative composite for re-entry applications through consolidating prepreg of 15 mm × 15 mm in a pre-designed mould. Subsequently, the random fibre-oriented composite laminates were subjected to various characterisation techniques and mechanical testing to qualify the same for re-entry missions. Thermal performance was evaluated under simulated re-entry conditions in a plasma wind tunnel. Property comparison and validation of performance in subscale tests are also discussed for random fibre-oriented composite and the layered laminate composite made through stacking plies one over the other. It was observed that the random fibre-oriented carbon phenolics composite possessed superior properties and exhibited better performance the layered laminate composite for re-entry and other space mission applications.

Keywords: ablative composites; carbon phenolic; random-fibre; erosion.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMPT.2022.120232

International Journal of Materials and Product Technology, 2022 Vol.64 No.1, pp.23 - 35

Accepted: 19 Jun 2021
Published online: 29 Dec 2021 *

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