Composite pressure vessels developed for cryogenics

Microcosm and Scorpus Space Launch Co. have created an all-composite cryogenic tank tested down to 77°K.

Microcosm Inc. (Hawthorne, Calif.) and Scorpius Space Launch Co. (SSLC, Hawthorne, Calif.) have teamed to create a series of all-composite, cryogenic pressure vessels. Marketed under the trade name PRESSURMAXX Sapphire*77, the cryotanks have tested successfully at 77°K /-321°F, the temperature of liquid nitrogen and colder than liquid oxygen.

Dr. James Wertz, president of Microcosm, says the Sapphire pressure vessels incorporate “all-composite bosses [that] replace older, very heavy metal bosses, making the tank a uniform material throughout, with a single, near-zero CTE. In addition, the vessels now can be built with an integral stringer system, designed to customer specifications, that allows the tank to completely replace the structure that was previously required to hold it.”

According to Jack Kulpa, CEO and president of SSLC, the net result of these changes is a tank that performs better but can be built faster, at lower weight and cost than vessels that contain metal components.     Target application areas include a firefighter breathing apparatus as well as homeland security/biohazard and “special ops” military-related devices, but the technology also should appeal to manufacturers of alternative fuel vehicles.