Polybenzimidazole (PBI) Coated CFRP Composite as a Front Bumper Shield for Hypervelocity Impact Resistance in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Environment

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An object in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is affected by many environmental conditions unlike earth's surface such as, Atomic oxygen (AO), Ultraviolet Radiation (UV), thermal cycling, High Vacuum and Micrometeoroids and Orbital Debris (MMOD) impacts. The effect of all these parameters have to be carefully considered when designing a space structure, as it could be very critical for a space mission. Polybenzimidazole (PBI) is a high performance thermoplastic polymer that could be a suitable material for space missions because of its excellent resistance to these environmental factors. A thin coating of PBI polymer on the carbon epoxy composite laminate (referred as CFRP) was found to improve the energy absorption capability of the laminate in event of a hypervelocity impact. However, the overall efficiency of the shield also depends on other factors like placement and orientation of the laminates, standoff distances and the number of shielding layers. This paper studies the effectiveness of using a PBI coating on the front bumper in a multi-shock shield design for enhanced hypervelocity impact resistance. A thin PBI coating of 43 micron was observed to improve the shielding efficiency of the CFRP laminate by 22.06% when exposed to LEO environment conditions in a simulation chamber. To study the effectiveness of PBI coating in a hypervelocity impact situation, experiments were conducted on the CFRP and the PBI coated CFRP laminates with projectile velocities between 2.2 to 3.2 km/s. It was observed that the mass loss of the CFRP laminates decreased 7% when coated by a thin layer of PBI. However, the study of mass loss and damage area on a witness plate showed CFRP case to have better shielding efficiency than PBI coated CFRP laminate case. Therefore, it is recommended that PBI coating on the front bumper is not so effective in improving the overall hypervelocity impact resistance of the space structure.
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COMPOSITES RESEARCH, v.31, no.3, pp.83 - 87

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AE-Journal Papers(저널논문)
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