The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a three-year grant of $629,263 to a team of researchers in The University of Tulsa’s College of Engineering & Computer Science to probe deeper into protective high-temperature coatings on carbon/carbon (C/C) composites. These C/C composites are vital in advancing high-temperature structural applications, such as hypersonic aerospace vehicles, space shuttle orbiters, rocket nozzles, heat shields, aircraft disc brakes, and nuclear fusion reactors. However, an outstanding challenge is their tendency to oxidize at temperatures exceeding 500°C, limiting their application.
TU’s Paul Buthod Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Hema Ramsurn is leading this research together with Associate Dean of Research and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Michael W. Keller and Professor of Physics and Engineering Physics Sanwu Wang. The faculty are collaborating with Oak Ridge National Laboratory Research and Development Staff Scientist Matthew R. Ryder on the project, which includes an additional $120,000 in funding for Oak Ridge.
“We are excited to partner with ORNL to perform this fundamental research, which will help us fill the critical knowledge gap of how processing parameters influence coating robustness so that we can enhance the performance of these advanced materials intended for harsh environments,” Ramsurn said.
The multidisciplinary partnership will utilize manufacturing processes developed at TU to create materials tailored for new energy and aerospace applications. The team of researchers is focused on uncovering the mechanisms of synthesis and degradation for coating materials used on these composites to help them survive in extreme environments. Their research will delve deeper into these materials using advanced neutron scattering techniques and high-performance computing.
Funding for this project is part of the DOE’s Funding for Accelerated, Inclusive Research (FAIR) Initiative, which supports research at minority-serving institutions and emerging research institutions to perform basic research to ensure that America’s best and brightest students have pathways to science, technology, engineering, and math fields.