Solution Name: Linerless Composite Sub-Cooled Liquid Oxygen (LOX) Tanks
Challenge: Global Space Transport and Delivery
Focus Area: Launch/Space Vehicle Systems
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Solution Description:Radian Aerospace has proposed to build, test, and analyze two linerless carbon fiber LOX tanks with a urethane matrix that can withstand cryogenic temperature extremes without microcracking and leaking. The tanks will be designed to hold sub-cooled (~-320° F) LOX. The use of higher-density subcooled LOX enables increased LOX load per unit tank volume. The lower vapor pressure of sub-cooled LOX significantly increases tank shape flexibility and lower weight, since the tanks do not have to serve as pressure vessels. Liquid Nitrogen (LN2), which has the same temperature as subcooled LOX, will be cycled between the tanks to represent multiple operational fill and drain cycles and to ensure the capability of the tanks to operate at subcooled LOX conditions. Additional cycles will be performed with Normal Boiling Point (nbp) LOX (~-297° F) to ensure compatibility of the tank material with LOX. A helium leak rate will be established before and after the LOX cycle test sequence to prove that exposure to the low temperatures has not increased leakage. Post-test material assessments, up to and including destructive analysis, will be conducted on the tanks to provide an understanding of the composite material behavior down to the microscopic level.
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