Cimarron advances micro-strain performance for cryogenic pressure tanks

Cimarron Composites (Huntsville, AL, US) has made a leap forward in all-composite cryogenic tank development: development of a carbon fiber-reinforced composite storage tank capable of 15,000 micro-strain performance while in a pressurized liquid nitrogen environment.

Cimarron Composites (Huntsville, AL, US) has made a leap forward in all-composite cryogenic tank development: development of a carbon fiber-reinforced composite storage tank capable of 15,000 micro-strain performance while in a pressurized liquid nitrogen environment. Cimarron founder Tom DeLay, formerly with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, Washington, DC, US), says successful operation at such a high strain level allows the liner-less composite tank structure, made with a combination of textiles with continuous wound fibers and an in-house resin, to be much thinner than previously required in these types of tanks, without the cost and mass of the liner. According to DeLay, earlier composite tank programs were limited to 3,000 micro-strain due to materials and processing limitations, and this resulted in extra mass. Cimarron’s material system is said to perform well at extremely low temperatures without developing the microcracks that create leak paths for fluids like liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen or liquid methane.

The company’s 44-inch diameter test article is representative of the size required for the development of small rocket concepts used for nanosatellite (1-10 kg mass) deliveries. The same technology is also applicable for much larger upper stages in commercial launch programs, or for very small satellites and space probes. Says DeLay, “Cimarron is fortunate to have the materials expertise, manufacturing equipment and cryogenic testing facilities to develop and demonstrate such unique hardware. Cimarron Composites can currently filament wind structures up to 6 ft in diameter and 45 ft long. We also have extensive liquid nitrogen-based testing equipment for proof tests (up to 20,000 psi), cycle tests and burst tests as needed, which covers the low-temperature range of most cryogenic fuels and oxidizers, except liquid hydrogen.” Cimarron just signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to have liquid hydrogen tank testing and liquid oxygen tests done at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL, US. This testing capability at NASA will help further mature the composite tank technology for upcoming launch vehicle developments, says Cimarron. More information is available at http://www.cimarroncomposites.com/.

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