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Toledo Legal News - News Battelle snags $46.3 million carbon contract

 

Columbus-based Battelle recently announced that the research institute successfully landed a contract in excess of $46 million to jumpstart an initiative to accelerate the production of carbon and carbon composites.

The initiative, Manufacturing of Carbon/Carbon Composites for Hypersonic Applications (or MOC3HA), seeks to rapidly mature and integrate manufacturing innovations to that end, officials said.

“Battelle made a strategic decision a little over a year ago to re-examine the basic process used for creating critical high-temperature carbon materials that are used in hypersonic vehicle shells and structures,” said Andy Kirby, Research Lead for Space and Hypersonics. “Currently it’s a very expensive, time-consuming process that doesn’t lend itself to the scalability needed to meet the increasing demand for future hypersonic weapons.”

The urgency to meet and exceed near-peer capabilities in hypersonic weapons systems has elevated the importance of solving the scientific and engineering challenges that have made reliable flight at hypersonic speeds " Mach 5-plus " elusive, a press release detailed.

One such critical need is Thermal Protection Systems, or TPS, that can withstand the aerodynamic heating of traveling at hypersonic speeds.

Scientists acknowledge there are few materials that can withstand such extreme temperatures, and current manufacturing practices can take on the order of months to yield a single part.

“Through MOC3HA, we’ve pulled together a team of carbon-carbon manufacturers, industry specialists, academic groups, and external technology providers with automation expertise to improve the production of these critical parts for hypersonic platforms,” said Brent Carey, a senior research scientist who is leading the program.

Battelle’s Advanced Materials team employs deep scientific and engineering expertise to help government and commercial clients develop new capabilities, extend the lifetime of current systems, and improve operational performance, the press release continued.

“We’ve also been running a strong (internal research and development) program to fundamentally improve the manufacturability of carbon-carbon through materials innovation, and just started some innovative research aimed at improving the temperature resilience of material surfaces after they have already been manufactured into parts,” Carey said. “At the end of the day, our goal is to improve performance and shorten the time of production to increase the availability of these critical materials.”

The Air Force Research Laboratory received five bids for the indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract and has pledged to obligate $6.3 million in fiscal 2020 research, development, test and evaluation funds at the time of award, the announcement noted.

Battelle has made key investments, including a $1 million capital investment to establish a research and development-scale high-temperature composite development laboratory focused on improving performance and manufacturability for advanced TPS.

KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer

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