Charring ablators remain the premium choice for space exploration missions that involve atmospheric re-entry. This type of ablative material is composed of a carbon matrix, usually made of fibers, which is then impregnated with a resin. During re-entry, the high heat flux produced by convective heating causes the material to chemically react. First, the resin pyrolyzes, and is vaporized into a gas that travels through the material, and is eventually ejected at the surface. Then, as the temperature rises, the surface of the porous matrix recess through ablative processes. For re-entry conditions typical of space exploration missions, this is mainly diffusion limited oxidation. However, recent studies have shown that oxygen from the atmosphere actually penetrates a thin layer of the porous material, oxidizing the carbon fibers from within.

This research activity presents a volume-averaged fiber-scale oxidation model, based on the one previously developed by Lachaud et al. The present model, however, solves the momentum equation as well as the energy equation. Results based on a an experimental test case are presented. The importance of solving both equations is clearly demonstrated, and a new value for carbon fiber oxidation reactivity is suggested.

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Conference Proceeding

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in the Proceedings of the 44th AIAA Thermophysics Conference, Paper 2013-2636, p. 1-11.

Copyright © 2013 by Alexandre Martin.

The copyright holders have granted the permission for posting the article here.

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