Evaluation of Materials for Replenishable Ablative Thermal Protection

Hawkens, Scott William (2012). Evaluation of Materials for Replenishable Ablative Thermal Protection B.Sc Thesis, School of Engineering, The University of Queensland.

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Author Hawkens, Scott William
Thesis Title Evaluation of Materials for Replenishable Ablative Thermal Protection
School, Centre or Institute School of Engineering
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012
Thesis type B.Sc Thesis
Supervisor John Drennan
Michael Smart
Total pages 70
Language eng
Subjects 091405 Mining Engineering
0913 Mechanical Engineering
Formatted abstract
The purpose of my thesis is to assist in the research and evaluation of a concept for a replenishable ablative thermal protection mechanism for the UQ Hypersonics Program. Copper-tungsten alloy is currently used in the aerospace industry as a thermal protection system, mainly as rocket thrust vectoring fins. This material consists of a tungsten matrix honeycomb with infiltrated copper. As the material is heated in flight fdue to leading edge stagnation the copper melts and is drawn to the surface through the tungsten matrix. At the surface the liquid copper forms a skin, preventing oxidation of the tungsten at high temperatures. Once the impregnated copper has fully ablated the tungsten is left unprotected and is rapidly oxidised and the component fails, resulting in only short term use of the material.

Current research by Prof. John Drennan has shown that the life of the material can be extended with the inclusion of a copper reservoir below the surface. The reservoir resupplies the matrix near the surface with copper as it is ablated. The thesis will be based on investigating the effect of a series of copper reservoirs to extend the life of the material. Cooling effects of the copper ablation process will also be investigated to understand if there is significant temperature decrease due to the ablation.

Copper-tungsten is being investigated for its viability as a material to test; if a series of copper reservoirs extends the service life of the material then testing will begin on a ceramic glass system. Using ceramic as the high temperature matrix and a glass ablative material, this technology could be implemented in high-temperature aerospace projects. Ultimately research is attempting to find materials for the leading edges of the University of Queensland’s hypersonic program. Currently, the leading edge materials are preventing extended hypersonic flight as temperatures can reach 3000oC. If the replenishable ablative system is proved then it can be used to prolong materials life on the leading edge surfaces therefore extending hypersonic flight.
Keyword thermal protection

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (non-RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Fri, 19 Sep 2014, 16:17:00 EST by Ahmed Taha Siddiqui on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service