Materials for aeronautical and space applications largely involve Ceramic Matrix Composites, CMCs, made of carbon, C, and silicon carbide, SiC. However, C/C composites suffer from poor erosion resistance while silicon-based ceramics, SiC/SiC or C/SiC composites, may undergo strong ablation due to the formation and volatilization of silica. In recent years, Ultra-High Temperature Ceramics, UHTCs, have shown outstanding erosion resistance at temperatures up to 2000°C or even higher but they still cannot resist to thermal shocks and damage.
Therefore, there is an increasing demand for advanced materials with temperature capability in highly corrosive environments to enable space vehicles to resist several launches and re-entries.
To overcome present technological limits, novel materials must be conceived. The EU-funded project C3HARME aims to combine the best features of CMCs and UHTCs to design, develop, manufacture and test a new class of Ultra-High Temperature Ceramic Matrix Composite (UHTCMCs) with self-healing capabilities. The latter should arise from the in-situ formation of adherent and ultra-refractory oxide scales. The incorporation of nano-sized dopants in the material could further protect the oxide scale in severe conditions.
C3HARME has selected two applications to implement the new materials:
The C3HARME project will introduce innovative material solutions integrating well-established and novel techniques for CMCs and UHTCs production.
The 12 partners represent the complete research and innovation value chain in the space sector, from initial design, to manufacture and environmental testing and aim to demonstrate the scalability towards the industrial needs. The iterative approach includes:
UHTCMCs should resist several launches and re-entries thus allowing a space vehicle to undergo several missions, with a notable cut in manufacturing costs. The new materials might easily find applications in another field with similar severe conditions, such as combustion and nuclear environments (Generation IV fission and fusion reactors) or concentrating solar power systems.