Advanced Low-Cost Composite Curing with High Energy Electron Beams
Small Business Information
Science Research Laboratory
15 Ward Street, Somerville, MA, 02143
AbstractCuring of glass or carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites using high energy electron beams (HEEB) offers impressive advantages for the fabrication of structural components in commercial and military vehicles. HEEB curing greatly reduces the time to cross-link the polymer matrix, while increasing composite tensile strength. The process simultaneously cures the matrix, adhesives and paints to bond together complete 200 lb vehicle "skeleton". Electron-beam-cured composite frames have the necessary stiffness for vehicle support, and can be produced at the high throughput rate necessary for commercial success. Science Research Laboratory (SRL) has developed a new generation of pulsed linear induction accelerators (LIA) which allow reliable, cost efficient production of high average power electron beams with the necessary parameters for high energy electron beam (HEEB) curing of advanced composites. Unique features of these accelerators include high repetition rate (> 5000 pps) all-solid-state pulsed power drivers which make these accelerators scalable to megawatt power levels at a capital cost for the accelerator of approximately $3/Watt. Phase I experiments will determine the electron beam parameters for efficient curing of novel resin formulations in automotive components. Results of curing experiments together with a design study will generate a preliminary plant design to combine HEEB curing with resin transfer molding of the entire RTM/HEEB process will then be carried out to compare composite parts cost with more traditional steel-based automotive parts. Anticipated Benefits: The high beam power and control of a HEEB curing system based on SRL induction accelerator technology will allow cost effective fabrication of reinforced thermoplastic composites for automotive and military applications.
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