Lightweight Integrated Ceramic Nozzle Concept for Propulsion

Award Information
Department of Defense
Missile Defense Agency
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
3292 E. Hemisphere Loop, Tucson, AZ, 85706
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Mark Rigali
Manager, Composite Cerami
(520) 573-6300
Business Contact:
Brett Waldo
(520) 573-6300
Research Institution:
Advanced Ceramics Research Inc. (ACR), has developed a simple, low cost composite fabrication method utilizing our patented composite fabrication and gel-casting technologies. Test samples and components will be fabricated by first mixing the gel castingslurry containing ceramic powder and fibers, casting this slurry into a near net shape mold, then firing of the green material into a finished part. These methods will be used for the creation of low-density structural components including thrusters andnozzles for the purpose of improving thrust to weight in propulsion systems. ACR will team with Alliant TechSystems on this program to develop the technology specific to the fabrication of low-cost and lightweight propulsion components using refractoryceramic materials and we will investigate opportunities for the developed material system for commercial applications including commercial satellites and space launch vehicles. ACR and the Tohono O'odham Reservation of Tucson, AZ, have teamed together toform a new $3.9 million dollar joint venture business called Advanced Ceramics Manufacturing LLC (ACM). The purpose of this new venture is to scale-up the high-temperature consolidation process of ceramic materials to large production volumes. Theventure will specifically focus on commercial production of technology developed on this and other government programs. The industrial applications of the materials and components developed under this Phase II program are applicable to both the defenseand commercial sectors. Our discussions with defense contractors have led to expressions of interest from Alliant TechSystems as well as Raytheon Missile Systems, and Aerojet. For the US government and BMDO, the potential applications are in (a) rocketnozzles (b) combustor and hot gas duct liners and (c) thruster housings. ACR has already established close supplier and development relationships with a number of relevant rocket motor manufacturers. For ATK, a critical technology need is low erosion andinsulating composite materials for nozzles and other parts in contact with hot gas and propellant in rocket propulsion applications. The lack of robustness of current ceramic-based materials for propulsion applications is a major concern and ATKconsiders the composites being developed on this effort the most viable route to achieve a robust material for propulsion applications.Other potential defense related propulsion applications include those in the Navy's standard missile-3 (SM3) solid divert and attitude control (SDACS) system for sea-based missile defense (SMD), national missile defense (NMD), theater high altitude airdefense (THAAD), integrated high performance rocket propulsion technology (IHPRPT) and missile control technology (MCT). Other high temperature applications include thrusters for satellite station keeping, high temperature jet engine and turbine enginecomponents.Potential commercial applications to be explored during the course of Phase I include items such as bearing seals, as well as liners and furniture where insulating refractory materials are desired. Based on past experience with the development of ourFibrous Monolith coated drill bit inserts with Smith International and the development of metal cutting tools with Kyocera Industrial Ceramics via funding from the DOE and the considerable interest has expressed in our technology for high temperatureapplications we expect this program to move us immediately into a position of obtaining private sector support.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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