CFOAM® Carbon Foam Thermal Protection System (TPS) Applications

CFOAM® carbon foam’s combination of thermal and physical properties make it an ideal material for advanced thermal protection systems (TPS).

For short durations, CFOAM® carbon foam can withstand extremely high temperatures. Shown is an oxy-acetylene torch heating CFOAM to about 3000°F.

Touchstone has developed a suite of solutions which can be applied to a number of TPS designs.

The primary function of TPS is to shield the underlying structure from excessive heat. The TPS also functions to cover the exterior of the vehicle, thus defining the outer surface.

TPS must have structural integrity, thereby maintaining acceptable vehicle surface contour under all environmental loads throughout the mission of the vehicle.

In recent years, a need has arisen for tougher thermal protection systems able to withstand a more agressive re-entry at a higher velocity. CFOAM carbon foam offers both the platform for a host of designs which may include the incorporation of phase change materials, or foams inside the TPS, along with a number of surface coatings.

Carbon and foams are potential candidates for future TPS designs primarily due to unique high temperature properties. For example, in the absence of oxygen these materials can be heated to about 3000°F without melting or softening and have high thermal shock resistance and dimensional stability.

Carbon and graphite materials have high emissivity, low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), and are self-supporting at low and high temperature regimes. These characteristics permit utilization of both thermal insulating and conducting properties, respectively, within a thermal management system. When properly designed, CFOAM carbon foam and other forms of carbon, such as graphite and graphite foams, can be tailored to effectively shield and carry thermal energy away from numerous areas of a craft.

Numerous tests on multiple designs have been performed by many of the major aerospace facilities on CFOAM thermal protection systems.

Carbon Innovations is building on a history in the area of thermal protection systems. In the 1990’s, Carbon Innovations was involved in the development of MCC-1, the thermal protection used on the solid rocket booster of the Space Shuttle. It led to Touchstone being nominated as United Technology’s NASA Subcontractor of the Year. In recent years, both metallic and non-metallic thermal protection systems have been tested in Touchstone’s mechanical testing laboratory.

Carbon foam TPS testing.

Carbon foam TPS testing.

CFOAM® carbon foam thermal protection test.

CFOAM® carbon foam could be used as a core for carbon-carbon composites in applications such as leading edges.

CFOAM® carbon foam could be used as a core for carbon-carbon composites in applications such as leading edges.

CFOAM® is a registered trademark of Carbon Innovations, LLC.
CFOAM® products may be covered under the following patents with more patents pending:
6,656,238 – 6,656,239 – 6,689,470 – 6,749,652 – 6,814,765 – 6,833,011 – 6,833,012 –
6,849,098 – 6,860,910 – 6,861,151 – 6,869,455 – 6,899,970 – 7,192,537 – 7,247,368