USA flag logo/image

An Official Website of the United States Government

Lightweight, High Conductivity Metal Matrix Composite

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2002 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Plasma Processes, LLC
4914 Moores Mill Road Huntsville, AL 35811-1558
View profile »
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2002
Title: Lightweight, High Conductivity Metal Matrix Composite
Agency: NASA
Contract: NAS8-01144
Award Amount: $70,000.00


Innovative technologies are needed to increase performance and reduce life-cycle cost of rocket engine components. Fabrication of lightweight engine components such as injector faceplates and nozzle ramps offer great potential for increasing thrust to weight ratios and reducing costs. Current research is being conducted on high temperature ceramics and ceramic matrix composites (CMC). Although these materials offer high temperature capability, major challenges exist for improving impact and fatigue resistance. Robust materials are needed to replace existing hardware for the Space Launch Initiative and long term 3rd generation RLV technologies. Plasma Processes, Inc. proposes to fabricate lightweight, high conductivity metal matrix composites (MMC). The composites will be formed to near net shape with a B4C or Al2O3 reinforced copper-based matrix. Diamond and carbon reinforcements will also be investigated to provide enhanced thermal conductivity. The new composites will offer as much as 50% reduced weight and higher temperature capability as compared to existing hardware and provide better fatigue resistance than monolithic ceramic or CMC materials. Additionally, the unique process will allow a HfC or ZrO2 functional gradient protective surface to be formed into the hot side of the composite, which increases the operating temperature capability, protects the composite from oxidation, and significantly increases life.

Principal Investigator:

Timothy McKechnie
Principal Investigator

Business Contact:

Timothy McKechnie
Small Business Information at Submission:

Plasma Processes, Inc.
4914 D Moores Mill Road Huntsville, AL 35811

EIN/Tax ID: 631100320
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No