Innovative Manufacturing/Materials for Structural Insulators in Hypersonic Flight Body Thermal Protection Systems

Navy SBIR 21.2 - Topic N212-131
SSP - Strategic Systems Programs
Opens: May 19, 2021 - Closes: June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt)

N212-131 TITLE: Innovative Manufacturing/Materials for Structural Insulators in Hypersonic Flight Body Thermal Protection Systems

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements (GWR);Hypersonics;Space

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace Environments;Materials / Processes;Weapons

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop low conductivity thermal insulation materials comparable to current generation commercial products that provide higher levels of strength at temperature and are manufactured by Aerospace-grade methods/processes as befits the Navy application. Current methods are basically Industrial grade.

DESCRIPTION: The best performing commercial insulation products are oxide-based felts and blankets produced in bulk for furnace linings and furnace furniture. They are well known and have been available for many decades. While low in cost and providing excellent thermal resistance, they are not typically intended for structural load bearing applications. The bulk manufacturing process tends to add local property variations, which are not always averaged out in the finished component form factor. Furthermore, the bulk format of these materials adds additional steps to the flight vehicle assembly as vehicle piece parts are fabricated from the bulk materials. Availability in near-net shape format would remove this secondary fabrication step and simplify vehicle assembly.

Thus, the opportunity presented by this SBIR topic is to apply some of the advanced aerospace composite materials and manufacturing technology developed over recent years; including but not limited to: fiber reinforcement, fiber coatings, tape placement, tape wrapping, 3D weaving, additive manufacture to develop reliable, uniform, low thermal conductivity/high strength materials and near-net shape components in form-factors applicable to Navy hypersonic flight vehicles.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by DoD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and SSP in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advanced phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Demonstrate low thermal conductivity and structural capability of materials/manufacturing solutions at the desk top/lab scale level. Figures of merit for comparison against current commercial products are physical density less than 0.7 g/cm^3, compressive strength greater than 750 psi, melting point greater than 3400°F, and in-plane/through thickness thermal conductivity less than 0.4 W/mK up to 3000°F against a commercial benchmark are the figures of merit [Ref 1]. Both active (decomposing) and passive insulation approaches are acceptable. Active approaches must still show equivalent weight performance improvement over benchmark materials as well as a discussion of strength retention and decomposition product management in a flight vehicle environment. Active approaches should also be able to function over a mission time of one hour. Current commercial products are available in blanket and plate format [Ref 2]. Companies should also discuss manufacturing approach and scale-up potential for production of aerospace grade hardware.

The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Produce prototype hardware to the requirements, materials, form factors and manufacturing approach from Phase I. Material thermal and mechanical characterization data will also be provided in order to assess replacement risk against current incumbent materials. At the end of Phase II, prototype hardware will be provided for government evaluation in a simulated flight test environment.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II. See details in the Description.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: In Phase III the firm will be expected to work with the government to integrate the final phase II product into Navy systems. Additional testing, such as flight tests, will occur then. High temperature capable, low thermal conductivity materials and components would have much interest in the commercial access-to-space environment, commercial aerospace, and gas turbine engine applications.


  1. Soboyejo, W. O.; Obayemi, J. D. and Annan, E. "Review of High Temperature Ceramics for Aerospace Applications." Advanced Materials Research, 2015, pp. 385-407.
  2. "OEM Insulation: Aerospace." Johns Manville, 2020.

KEYWORDS: Conventional Prompt Strike; Thermal Protection System; Structural Insulators; High Thermal Diffusivity Materials; Thermal Resistance; Reentry Vehicles; Hypersonic Vehicle Heat Loads


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 21.2 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its 21.2 SBIR BAA pre-release on April 21, which opens to receive proposals on May 19, 2021, and closes June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt).

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