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Ultrafine HfC/TaC for Rocket Thrusters

Award Information

Department of Defense
Missile Defense Agency
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
1996 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Materials Modification Inc
2809-K Merrilee Drive Fairfax, VA -
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 1996
Title: Ultrafine HfC/TaC for Rocket Thrusters
Agency / Branch: DOD / MDA
Contract: N/A
Award Amount: $55,816.00


Liquid rocket engine performance can be dramatically improved by increasing the wall temperatures for operation concurrent with a reduction in the component weight. The bipropellant fuel combustion temperatures are between 3000 "approx" 3500 C. The conventional thrusters and exit nozzles made of niobium alloys have a maximum operating temperature limit of 1600 C. A regenerative cooling technology is normally used to keep the wall temperatures below its limit. This type of cooling is not effective for smaller engines because of the lower propellant flow rate and great wall area/flow rate ratio. The state-of-the-art propulsion systems made of rhenium coated with iridium permit wall temperatures to be as high as 2200 C. Unfortunately, Re-Ir components are heavy and expensive. In this SBIR research program, MMI proposes to develop a lightweight high temperature material, (Hf,Ta)C, through a novel approach. The precursor to (Hf,Ta)C is in a liquid form, which is potentially capable of infiltrating reinforcement materials such as graphite fibers to form composites. The resulting (Hf,Ta)C phase will be nano-crystalline, which will have improved toughness/ductility. In Phase I, efforts will be focused on materials synthesis and consolidation. Composite formation, component fabrication and testing will be pursued in Phase II along with an industrial partner.

Principal Investigator:

C. Charles Yu, Ph.d.

Business Contact:

Small Business Information at Submission:

Materials Modification, Inc.
2929-P1 Eskridge Road Fairfax, VA 22031

Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No