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CHIPS Articles: DARPA Seeks New Materials to Cool Hypersonic Vehicles

DARPA Seeks New Materials to Cool Hypersonic Vehicles
By CHIPS Magazine - December 19, 2018
One of the high priority objectives of the National Defense Strategy is to increase lethality in an era of great power competition by Investing in superior innovative technologies to maintain the U.S. military fighting edge. The services are all working to advance capabilities and warfighter lethality.

The Defense Department has tapped its science and technology arm, the Defense Research Projects Agency, to boost ways to accelerate its development of hypersonic weapons and vehicles which travel more than five times faster than the speed of sound. The problem at issue is as hypersonic vehicles travel through the atmosphere at incredibly high speeds, they create intense friction with the surrounding air as they travel at Mach 5 or above. Developing structures that can withstand extreme temperatures at such high speeds is a technical challenge, especially for leading edges that bear the brunt of the heat, according to a DARPA release.

To overcome this thermal challenge, DARPA recently announced its Materials Architectures and Characterization for Hypersonics program. The MACH program aims to develop and demonstrate new design and material solutions for sharp, shape-stable, cooled leading edges for hypersonic vehicles. A Proposers Day describing the program will take place Jan. 22, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia: https://go.usa.gov/xEcEy.

“For decades people have studied cooling the hot leading edges of hypersonic vehicles but haven’t been able to demonstrate practical concepts in flight,” said Bill Carter, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. “The key is developing scalable materials architectures that enable mass transport to spread and reject heat. In recent years we’ve seen advances in thermal engineering and manufacturing that could enable the design and fabrication of very complex architectures not possible in the past. If successful, we could see a breakthrough in mitigating aerothermal effects at the leading edge that would enhance hypersonic performance.”

The MACH program includes two technical areas, DARPA said. The first area aims to develop and mature fully integrated passive thermal management system to cool leading edges based on scalable net-shape manufacturing and advanced thermal design. The second technical area will focus on next-generation hypersonic materials research, applying modern high-fidelity computational capabilities to develop new passive and active thermal management concepts, coatings and materials for future cooled hypersonic leading-edge applications. Both technical areas will be described in a Broad Agency Announcement solicitation expected in mid-January 2019 on DARPA’s FedBizOpps page here: http://go.usa.gov/Dom/.

DARPA is encouraging individuals and organizations with expertise in thermal engineering and design, advanced computational materials development, architected materials design, fabrication and testing (including net shape fabrication of high temperature metals, ceramics and their composites), hypersonic leading-edge design and performance, and advanced thermal protection systems to participate in Proposers Day. Registration details are available here: http://events.sa-meetings.com/MACHProposersDay.

DARPA’s Materials Architectures and Characterization for Hypersonics (MACH) program seeks new materials and designs for cooling the hot leading edges of hypersonic vehicles traveling more than five times the speed of sound. DARPA image
DARPA’s Materials Architectures and Characterization for Hypersonics (MACH) program seeks new materials and designs for cooling the hot leading edges of hypersonic vehicles traveling more than five times the speed of sound. DARPA image
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