DIRECT TO PHASE II – Shaped, High Strength Silicon Carbide Fibers for Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) in Hypersonic Applications

Navy SBIR 23.1 - Topic N231-D04
SSP - Strategic Systems Programs
Pre-release 1/11/23   Opens to accept proposals 2/08/23   Closes 3/08/23 12:00pm ET

N231-D04   TITLE: DIRECT TO PHASE II – Shaped, High Strength Silicon Carbide Fibers for Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) in Hypersonic Applications

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Hypersonics; Space

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 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 a novel process for manufacturing shaped silicon carbide (SiC) fibers for advanced ceramic matrix composites (CMCs).

DESCRIPTION: Hypersonic vehicles and other strategic systems require advanced CMCs to protect them from ablative, oxidizing, and high temperature environments over long durations. The supply of these materials must be both domestic and stable to ensure they remain available to the warfighter. Currently, thermal protection system (TPS) materials have limited manufacturing capacity, are primarily carbon-carbon (C/C) based technology, take months to create, and have a higher than desired scrap rate (which leads to increased cost).

For next generation TPS, ultra-high temperature ceramics (UHTC), such as SiC, will supplant today’s materials due to superior high temperature performance in oxidative operational environments. UHTCs have the potential to allow for optimized designs and improved vehicle performance currently not possible due to existing material constraints. It is essential that the U.S. has a domestic supply of advanced thermal protection materials as the DoD pursues hypersonic vehicle programs over the next decade.

While continuous fibers are employed as woven, braided, or knitted structures in many compositing applications, discontinuous fibers are being utilized in new and novel ways which provide various benefits. A primary benefit often includes rapid processing times. Short fibers mixed with a slurry or preceramic polymer have been used with injection molding, transfer molding, and inkjet writing. Discontinuous fibers can be used to construct yarns, tapes, or sheets that have improved drapability and formability. Additionally, control over the diameter and shape of the fiber cross section has the potential to improve the processability of short fibers and their performance.

This SBIR topic seeks the development of a novel production process for short SiC fibers. The process developed in this effort should: produce fiber with much greater temperature performance than existing fibers; be capable of producing multiple fiber compositions, such as UHTCs, with same underlying technology; be capable of adapting to produce various fiber morphologies and properties, including fibers with variably shaped profiles; be capable of large and small batch processes; be cost-effective and saleable; and produce minimal waste.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. 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: For a Direct to Phase II topic, the Government expects that the small business would have accomplished the following in a Phase I-type effort and developed a concept for a workable prototype or design to address, at a minimum, the basic requirements of the stated objective above. The below actions would be required in order to satisfy the requirements of Phase I:

• Developed the concept for a manufacturing process capable of producing short SiC fiber.

• Evaluated the manufacturing process, considering the desired process characteristics outlined in the topic description.

• Produced sample fiber via this manufacturing route and performed initial characterization and performance testing.

• Demonstrated the capability to meet Phase II goals, including developing the manufacturing process, executing testing, and characterizing the fibers.

 

FEASIBILITY DOCUMENTATION: Offerors interested in participating in Direct to Phase II must include in their response to this topic Phase I feasibility documentation that substantiates the scientific and technical merit and Phase I feasibility described in Phase I above has been met (i.e., the small business must have performed Phase I-type research and development related to the topic NOT solely based on work performed under prior or ongoing federally funded SBIR/STTR work) and describe the potential commercialization applications. The documentation provided must validate that the proposer has completed development of technology as stated in Phase I above. Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to: technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results. Work submitted within the feasibility documentation must have been substantially performed by the offeror and/or the principal investigator (PI). Read and follow all of the DON SBIR 23.1 Direct to Phase II Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Instructions. Phase I proposals will NOT be accepted for this topic.

PHASE II: The contractor is expected to complete the following Phase II:

• Develop a manufacturing process capable of producing shaped, short SiC fiber in a timely and cost effective manner. Required process characteristics are outlined in the final paragraph of topic description.

• Understand how the processing conditions affect the fiber properties, and develop the process controls needed to govern fiber properties.

• Produce fiber and characterize it in terms of its microstructure (surface morphology, chemical composition, phase, and grain size), mechanical properties, and high-temperature capabilities.

 

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: In Phase III the contractor is expected to finalize development, based on Phase II results, and aid in supplying the Navy with material needed to perform testing under representative flight conditions. The need for additional domestic sources of high temperature CMCs exists within other branches of the DoD, and potential uses for this technology exist in the commercial and aftermarket composite industry as well. Defense sector, space shuttles and any high-speed systems could utilize the developed cables and connectors.

REFERENCES:

1.       U. Papenburg, S. Walter, M. Selzer, S. Beyer, H. Laube, G. Langel, U. Papenburg, S. Walter, M. Selzer, S. Beyer, H. Laube and G. Langel. Advanced ceramic matrix composites (CMC's) for space propulsion systems. American Institue of Aeronautise and Astronautics, Inc. 33rd Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, Seattle, WA, 06 July 1997 – 09 July 1997.

2.       S. Schmidt, S. Beyer, H. Knabe, H. Immich, R. Meistring, A. Gessler. Advanced ceramic matrix composite materials for current and future propulsion technology applications. Acta Astronautica, Volume 55, Issues 3–9, 2004, Pages 409-420, ISSN 0094-5765.

 

KEYWORDS: Hypersonics; silicon carbide; ceramic matrix composites; manufacturing; fibers; thermal protection system

Communication with SSP TPOCs will be coordinated through the SSP SBIR Program Manager.

TPOC-1: SSP SBIR POC

Email: [email protected]


** TOPIC NOTICE **

The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 23.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at www.defensesbirsttr.mil/SBIR-STTR/Opportunities/#announcements for any updates.

The DoD issued its Navy 23.1 SBIR Topics pre-release on January 11, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on February 8, 2023, and closes March 8, 2023 (12:00pm ET).

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