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Novel Textile for Use on Low Cost Parachutes Employing Trigger Technology to Rapidly Degrade

Description:

OBJECTIVE: Develop a material which has a more user and environmentally friendly disposal method than materials currently in use in Low Cost Aerial Delivery Systems (LCADS). DESCRIPTION: Low Cost Aerial Delivery Systems (LCADS) parachutes, which account for 99% of operational airdrop, are made out of a low cost polypropylene material and are considered one-time-use. With traditional airdrop before LCADS, users had to recover all of the parachutes after each airdrop, then inspect, repair, and repack them for future use. With LCADS, users do not have to spend time on the drop zone recovering the parachutes, which significantly reduces their threat exposure. In addition, they do not have to perform the laborious, manpower-intensive tasks of repairing and repacking the parachutes. The current tempo of airdrop would literally not be possible without LCADS parachutes because there is simply not enough manpower to support the quantities of supplies being airdropped. There are three types of parachutes, in the LCADS family of systems, these are: 1. The Low Cost Low Velocity parachute (LCLV) by far the most commonly used parachute. It can airdrop bundles weighing anywhere from 500-2,200 lbs, and can be employed at altitudes ranging from 1,000 ft above ground level (AGL) to 10,000 ft mean sea level (MSL). It can safely deliver even the most sensitive supplies and has a descent rate of 15-28 fps. It costs $2,650 compared to its legacy equivalent, the G-12, which costs $4,100. 2. The Low Cost High Velocity parachute (LCHV) can also airdrop bundles weight from 500-2,200 lbs, and can be employed at altitudes ranging from 2,000 ft AGL to 25,000 ft MSL. It is used for supplies that can withstand a harder impact and has a descent rate of 60-90 fps. It costs $830 compared to its legacy equivalent, the 26-ft Ringslot, which costs $950. 3. The Low Cost Low Altitude (LCLA) parachute is used in situations that require pinpoint accuracy for smaller scale resupply. It can airdrop bundles ranging from 80-200 lbs and is employed at altitudes ranging from 150-300 ft AGL. It delivers loads at a similar descent rate to the LCLV and costs about $300. 4. The Low Cost Container (LCC) is the most common container used to hold the supplies and gets attached to the parachute. It costs $190 compared to its legacy equivalent, the A-22, which costs $470. Over 5,000 of these disposable systems are dropped in theater every month making LCADS the primary method for soldier resupply for fuel, food and ammunitions. The use of LCADS is especially critical in remote locations that are inaccessible by vehicle due to a high security threat or rugged terrain. Each system is made using up to 800 square yards of polypropylene geo textile materials that have traditionally been used as road liners in soil filtration applications. The properties of the low cost canopy fabrics used are identified in Table 1. After the supplies are recovered from the drop zone, the parachute system remains and since it is not reused, it has to be disposed of. Users dispose of these parachutes predominantly by burning them in a pit dug directly on the drop zone. With the frequency of soldier resupply at about 5,000 loads per month in Afghanistan, users have to dispose of up to 4 million square yards of fabric monthly. Not only is this task laborious and time consuming, but also the toxic byproducts of the combustion have the potential to introduce soldiers to health risks. It is widely known that large plastic fires produce a significant amount of environmentally toxic pollutants that can be considered a significant health hazard. The ability to more quickly and easily to dispose of the parachutes in a less toxic manner will be a significant benefit to the deployed user community. This SBIR topic serves to focus on developing novel materials to achieve that goal. The most desirable technologies would allow the users to completely abandon the parachutes on the drop zone where they land, with the confidence that within days or weeks the material will have fully or partially degraded upon application of a trigger to eliminate its physical footprint. Materials that have the ability to partially or fully degrade through various trigger mechanisms (such as thermal, mechanical, photochemical, biological, chemical, or electrical) in a time period that could range from a few seconds to a few days are most desirable. Degradation can be initiated by natural means or via a man-made trigger. Materials can be films, woven fabric, nonwoven fabric, webbings, tape, or cord that are flexible, low in weight and possess moderate to high strength. Any materials developed would need to meet or exceed the current material performance identified in Table 1, as well as be shelf stable for up to 2 months at 140F. At a minimum, novel materials that meet the current polypropylene material properties in Table 1 while also being less toxic when burned would be considered with the provision that the solution adds no additional disposal requirements to the user. The current cost of the currently used material when purchased at high quantities is approximately $1.50 per linear yard. Cost is a significant factor in successful material development and the proposed materials should not exceed the current rate. TABLE 1 Material Characteristic: WEIGHT (OZ/SQ YD.) MAX. Test Method: ASTM D 5261 Parachute Type & Material Requirement: LCLA: 2.8 LCHV: 3.9 LCLV: 2.7 Material Characteristic: TENSILE STRENGTH, WARP (LB) MIN Test Method: ASTM D 4632 Parachute Type & Material Requirement: LCLA: 120 LCHV: 150 LCLV: 138 Material Characteristic: TENSILE STRENGTH, FILLING (LB) MIN Test Method: ASTM D 4632 Parachute Type & Material Requirement: LCLA: 90 LCHV: 130 LCLV: 95 Material Characteristic: ELONGATION, WARP (%) MIN Test Method: ASTM D 4632 Parachute Type & Material Requirement: LCLA: 15 LCHV: 15 LCLV: 20 Material Characteristic: ELONGATION, FILLING (%) MIN Test Method: ASTM D 4632 Parachute Type & Material Requirement: LCLA: 15 LCHV: 13 LCLV: 15 Material Characteristic: TEAR STRENGTH, WARP (LB) MIN Test Method: ASTM D 4533 Parachute Type & Material Requirement: LCLA: 50 LCHV: 50 LCLV: 60 Material Characteristic: TEAR STRENGTH, FILLING (LB) MIN Test Method: ASTM D 4533 Parachute Type & Material Requirement: LCLA: 45 LCHV: 50 LCLV: 50 Material Characteristic: AIR PERMEABILITY (CUBIC FT. PER MINUTE PER SQ. FT) Test Method: ASTM D 737 Parachute Type & Material Requirement: LCLA: 15-55 LCHV: 18-45 LCLV: 16-40 Material Characteristic: WIDTH (IN.) Test Method: Parachute Type & Material Requirement: LCLA: 60 LCHV: 37 LCLV: 88 PHASE I: This phase will focus on establishing the technical feasibility to develop novel materials that will degrade quickly upon application of a trigger or identification of a technology that will enable the LCADS to be disposed of in a more user and environmentally friendly method than currently employed. The proposed material having the ability to degrade upon application of a trigger must do so while meeting or exceeding the same specifications that are currently established for the LCADS polypropylene. Various trigger mechanisms should be explored; however, the trigger must be employable within the scope of an airdrop mission. The trigger must be able to be activated in a range of environmental conditions including, hot, cold, tropical, arid, etc. In addition, the material shall be the same cost or less expensive than the current polypropylene. Upon application of a trigger, the material should have a response rate to complete degradation in a timeframe minimum of a few seconds up to a maximum of a few weeks. Trigger mechanisms such as thermal, mechanical, photochemical, biological, chemical, or electrical can be considered. For those technologies that would aim to make the low cost materials more environmentally friendly to dispose of by reducing the toxicity of materials when burned, the proposed material would need to have at least a 50% reduction in toxicity when compared to the currently used materials identified in Table 1. In addition to being less toxic, any proposed material shall be of similar or lesser weight and cost as compared to current materials, as well as possess similar or better performance in terms of strength, flexibility, durability, sewability, parachute packability and overall stability to storage conditions. Bench top proof of concept demonstrations of the material performance shall be performed to establish and evaluate the material"s suitability for replacement of the polypropylene. The same test procedures that are used to validate the current polypropylene shall be used to test the new material, and are identified in Table I. It is essential that any proposed solution including textiles that fall under the Berry Amendment would comply with all its requirements. The most effective material or materials will be determined and proposed for Phase II efforts. A report and functioning material samples shall be delivered documenting the research and testing development supporting the effort along with a detailed description of materials, processes and associated risk for the proposed Phase II effort. PHASE II: During Phase II, further development of the concepts derived in Phase I could be pursued with the ultimate goal to demonstrate the material"s performance on equipment prototype of a LCLV, LCLA or LCHV systems. The awardee shall develop, demonstrate, and deliver fabric and parachute prototype(s) that are in accordance with the objectives identified in Phase I as both meeting the LCADS polypropylene specifications and demonstrating rapid degradation. In addition to the delivery of fabric and equipment prototypes, a report shall be delivered documenting the research and development supporting the effort along with a detailed description and specification of the materials, designs, performance and manufacturing processes. PHASE III: High strength, low cost, synthetic fabrics that are more environmentally friendly to dispose of and materials that are stable until acted upon to degrade by a trigger will have potential commercial applications in construction, manufacturing, medical, clothing, cleaning and food industries. The offeror should aggressively pursue opportunities for the employment of the proposed technologies in these applications or other innovative uses. REFERENCES: 1. http://asc.army.mil/docs/pubs/alt/2010/3_JulAugSep/articles/53_Low-Cost_Aerial_Delivery_Systems_%28LCADS%29_Provide_Soldiers_With_Critical_Supplies_201003.pdf Low-Cost Aerial Delivery Systems (LCADS) Provide Soldiers With Critical Supplies, by Scott Martin 2. Toxic smoke hazard from burning polymeric material: Environmental pollution and health hazard, BB Dambatta, M. M. Al-Enazi. 3. Aerial Resupply on the forefront in Afghanistan, LTC Mitchell H Stevenson, ARMY Magazine, June 2010 4. http://youtube/KbhE_r46iuU Air Drop Supply Video, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Video by Sgt. Matthew Graham
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