Duration: 18 months
Composites offer a great stiffness to weight ratio, corrosion resistance or fatigue properties, explaining why they are used in various applications from sport equipment to spacecraft. Despite their unmatched properties they suffer from their poor resistance to damage. Indeed, even small damage events can be the start of a catastrophic major failure. Microcracks and delamination in the matrix grow more and more until the part loses its properties and eventually breaks. Those small damage events can emerge from different sources, from impact to fatigue. The space industry is turning towards the reusability of structure and lower costs. Within this frame, being able to have a fast, non-intrusive repair of composite parts and structures would help bringing down costs from production, post processing to damage in the cyclic use of a cryo-tank for example. The idea is to reduce scrap rates, extend life of parts and ease maintenance, ultimately reducing costs from production, operation and maintenance by enabling fast (1 minute) healable composite technology for the space industry. In order to achieve that, CompPair wants to develop new prepreg and towpreg, based on their technology, answering the needs given by final applications (cryo-tank for example) while being healable. The ability to heal the composite comes from the resin, which, when heated (between 100 to 170°C, below the resin's glass transition temperature}, activates a healing cycle without the need of pressure or a mould, while keeping the part structural. Indeed, the uniqueness from this healable composite technology relies on the fact that part of the resin remains structural during the healing phase, while the activated part fills the cracks and delaminations to close these. Such technology is already commercialized in other markets by CompPair but needs to be adapted to respect specifications for space application. The aim would be to bring this technology for space applications from TRL 1 to 4.