Low Weight Design of a Pressure-fed System for a Small Payload Launch Vehicle
Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites have become of great interests to aerospace industries because of their low-cost, lightweight and their tailorable mechanical properties. In aerospace structures, for example, heavy metals have been used in cryogenic fuel and oxidizer tanks for over 50 years. However, weight savings can be substantial if materials such as composites are used instead. From Delta IV heavy-lift launch vehicle it is known that cryogenic composite tanks can save approximately up to 30% of weight in fuel and oxidizer tanks. Although there is a wealth of studies in the mechanical behavior of composites at room temperature, very few work has been reported at cryogenic temperatures. The lack of research information concerning composite materials behavior at cryogenic temperatures (-253 °C) is often the cause that holds back engineers from incorporating them in aerospace structures for safety reasons. The University of Texas at El Paso designed a launch vehicle to operate with liner-less pressure-fed common bulkhead carbon fiber cryogenic tanks. The pressure fed system will allow for scalability and engine capabilities adaptation so that the cryogenic tanks can be used in a transfer stage or lunar lander. However, it is still unknown what fiber and epoxy matrix and layup will make it scientifically reasonable and feasible. Finite element analysis has been done on tanks but there is a need to better understand the materials at cryogenic temperatures. The purpose of this project is to study the tensile behavior of carbon fiber/epoxy and Kevlar/epoxy composites at 25 °C, -60 °C and thermal gradient temperature of 25 °C/ -60 °C. Mechanical properties obtained will prove the potential of textile composites to manufacture cryogenic propellant tanks.
Buendia, Lucero, "Low Weight Design of a Pressure-fed System for a Small Payload Launch Vehicle" (2020). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI27994603.