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Lightweight Electromagnetically Immune Wire and Composite Conduit


OBJECTIVE: The primary objective of this topic is to develop and transition material technologies to enable HPM hardened composite conduit, endcaps/ mating surfaces (compatible with both composite and aluminum enclosures) and provide lightweight cable shields. DESCRIPTION: Current shielding of power cables and signal cables including those use in fly-by-wire aircraft rely on heavy over-braiding utilizing multiple layers of braiding and foil wraps. These braided wires may add up to several pounds per yard in a traditional cable harness. In addition these cables may then be placed in a secondary metal shield such as a metal conduit, further adding weight to the aircraft. This additional weight can reduce mission time by increasing fuel use, and is not necessarily immune to low frequency RF events , both natural and manmade. Both commercially scalable conductive nanotechnologies and recent advances in NON-parasitic conductive composite technologies present a unique opportunity to impact both the weight of the wiring system reducing fuel costs and the RF/ microwave electromagnetic performance of the shielding. This effort is to design, fabricate and test a system of both improved lightweight cable shielding and composite (carbon fiber or Kevlar based) conductive conduit which does not utilize metal foils or other parasitically attached structures. The system demonstrated must be retrofit compatible with existing standard metal enclosures such as those found in avionics flight surface actuator boxes as well as future conductive composite based aircraft enclosures / equipment racks. The materials proposed in this effort must be scalable to mass production and not impose additional maintenance requirements over the baseline technology. The manufacturing processes proposed must utilize standard industrial equipment and industrial teaming is strongly encouraged to facilitate meeting this performance metric. Anticipated deliverables would include multiple sections of lightweight signal and power cable>10m long as well as corresponding segments of lightweight composite conduit illustrating straight sections, flexible sections, 90 degree bends, 30 degree bends, 45 degree bends, T-segments, and Y-segments. The cable and conduit deliverables shall demonstrate the ability to be installed utilizing traditional tools and techniques, endure standard vibration and mechanical loading associated with standard flight profiles for tanker and transport aircraft as a minimum , with a goal of surviving loads and vibrations associated with modern fighter aircraft. The electromagnetic protection should not degrade under these loads. Electromagnetic testing shall be conducted at low powers utilizing MIL-STD testing techniques, including reverberation chamber testing. Electromagnetic testing shall also be accomplished against narrowband and wideband HPM sources at power levels to be provided to the successful bidder(s). Contracts resulting from this solicitation will be ITAR restricted, and Phase II activities will require an existing facility clearance in place at the secret level. These requirements will flow down to subcontractors including universities. PHASE I: The Phase I effort will demonstrate initial shielded cabling technologies and conductive structural conduit. Deliverables shall include a final & intermediate reports, Three 6 foot segments of best effort shielded cabling with shielded end connectors demonstrating the technology developed, three straight segment conductive conduit with shielded end connectors demonstrating technology developed. PHASE II: The phase II shall build on the technology developed and results of the phase I testing. Deliverables shall include quarterly reporting, 12 of each of the bend segments describe in the description as well 12 of the corresponding structural conduits. The system shall be demonstrated against narrow and wideband HPM sources and with composite and aluminum enclosure terminations. The technology manufacturing readiness level will be matured to facilitate commercial transition. PHASE III: Phase III efforts shall focus on technology transition for dual use domestic applications in commercial aircraft as well as specific DOD systems. A business model for the technology transition will be evaluated at the start of the effort and monitored during the course of the effort. REFERENCES: 1. 2. 3.
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