Characterization of Shear Strengths and Microstructures for Solid Rocket Motor Insulation Materials

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Virginia Tech

As advances in solid rocket technology push rocket motors to more extreme operating speeds and temperatures, it becomes increasingly important to have well-designed material systems capable of surviving these harsh conditions. One common component in these systems is the use of a fiber- and particle-reinforced EPDM insulation layer between the motor casing and the solid fuel to shield the casing from the temperatures of the burning fuel and from the high velocity of gas particles traveling within the motor. This work studies several insulation materials to determine which exhibits the highest shear strength after being charred. Double-notch shear test specimens of three materials, ARI-2718, ARI-2719, and ARI-2750, were charred and tested to measure the failure strength of each charred material. The ARI-2750 showed the highest shear strength when loaded along the material orientation, but the ARI-2719 was strongest when transversely loaded. The strength measurements for ARI-2750 were highly sensitive to loading direction, unlike ARI-2718 and ARI-2719. Extensive scanning electron microscopy to identify correlations between shear strength and microstructure revealed that the amount of fiber orientation and amount of residual matrix material may have significant impacts on charred shear strength in these materials.

EPDM, Insulation, Char, Shear Strength, Microstructure