Innovations projects

The work is supported by the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises in Science and Technology.

Name R&D – development of technology for the production of cyanate-ether binders for carbon plastics of space vehicles.

The aim of the project is to develop a new generation of binder with unique properties and technologies for their synthesis for the multiple improvement of the quality and lifetime of the antenna systems of space vehicles.

The work on the proposed project will create materials for new generation space antenna systems, significantly improving the efficiency and lifespan of Russian spacecraft.

When creating new generation space antennas, it is most important to ensure high dimensional stability of antennas and their long service life in orbit.

Dimensional stability is necessary to preserve the mathematically accurate shape of the antenna, which provides its high sensitivity, resolution and signal-to-noise ratio. For dimensional stability, the antenna material must be as rigid as possible (having a large Young's modulus), but the harder the material, the more fragile it is. In space on a circumterrestrial apparatus with temperature drops from -160 ° C to + 160 ° C, rigid materials begin to form microcracks, which increase after each thermal cycle. Microcracks reduce all the main characteristics of the antenna (sensitivity, resolution, signal-to-noise ratio) and eventually lead to degradation of the antenna and loss of its performance, which greatly reduces the life of the spacecraft in orbit.

For the epoxy binders developed in the middle of the last century and the epoxy binders currently used on Russian space vehicles, the rigidity / fracture resistance ratio has reached its limit for a long time, therefore the creation of new generation antennas is possible only with the use of new innovative materials.

At the beginning of the 21st century, unique chemical compounds, cyanate esters, were synthesized in the United States and England, monomeric units of which have great rigidity, and when cured they form polymeric meshes with an increased free volume, that is, the grid contains micro-voids. Due to micro-hollows at the molecular level, at temperature differences, the stresses are removed without leading to microcracks. This unique class of polymers has a stiffness / crack resistance ratio that is more than 10 times better than that of epoxides, being a kind of revolution in space materials science.

Moreover, polyethersanates have a 5-6 times less moisture absorption than epoxides, which also significantly improves the quality of antennas, since water molecules evaporating in space from the volume of carbon fiber degrade its dimensional stability and create microcracks.

It is also important to note here that at present cyanate-ether binders for the space industry are produced only in the USA and England, they are all subject to sanctions as dual-use products and are prohibited from being shipped to Russia.

Realization of this project:

1) Will provide the Russian space industry with a critically important material that is banned from being delivered to Russia because of sanctions by the United States and the European Union countries;

2) Will give an opportunity to enter the foreign market with innovative material that surpasses the known analogues of foreign competitors in quality.

To implement this project, NIIKAM LLC has 1 200 m2 of production space and 800 m2 of laboratory space.

The main means for the implementation of the project are:

– Analyzer dynamic mechanical Perkin Elmer DMA 7E;

– Laboratory installation Perkin Elmer DMA7 / TMA7 (analysis of properties of various samples);

– Gas chromatograph Shimadzu GC-2010 (equipped with a gas flow pressure controller, special software);

– Dissolver brand DISPERMAT CN40F2;

– Differential Scanning Calorimeter DSC 214 with fine adjustment regulators GCE-DRUVA;

– Press manual for the formation of tablets with potassium bromide;

– Rotary evaporator RV 10 digital V;

– Cooling system Perkin Elmer: calorimeter, controller, software;

– Spectrometer WATER MICROMASS 3MD B / O 2002 (for determining the structure of complex molecules);

– IR-Fourier spectrometer Shimadzu IR Prestige-21 (analysis of microimpurities);

– SpeedMixer laboratory vacuum planetary (Germany);

– Drying cabinet with forced convection Memmert UF55plus;

– Universal machine brand IR 5082-50;

– Scales CAUX-220 CAS.

The team of our institute developed a method for the preparation of a cyanate-ether prepolymer based on bisphenol A, and also studied the regularities of catalysis by organometallic complexes upon cyanate-ether binder curing.

In 2010, our team began work on a project to create binders with improved operational properties for outer space conditions. A patent search was carried out, a literature review on the subject was prepared, and a comprehensive analysis of the composition of products of foreign manufacturers was carried out. In 2011, our team developed an original way of obtaining the cyanate-ether binder, a patent was obtained. Further, the main properties of the binder were studied and the influence of various organometallic compounds on the kinetics of polymerization of the binder and the laws of catalysis by organometallic complexes upon curing of cyanate-ether oligomers was studied.

The novelty of NIIKAM's works and the scientific background in the field of cyanate-ether synthesis is confirmed by the patent of the Russian Federation No. 2484102 dated 03.11.2011 on the invention "an alternative method for the preparation of the bisphenol A dicyanate prepolymer" (authors: VN Bulavka, VF Aristov).

This patent describes an alternative method for preparing an oligomeric cyanate-ester binder. A key advantage of the developed method is the possibility of obtaining oligomeric cyanate-ether binders with an extended shelf life (lifetime) as compared to known technical solutions described, for example, in DE 2460228 used as a prototype.

The method proposed by NIIKAM Ltd. makes it possible to prepare cyanate-ether binders with a given amount of catalyst, which significantly improves the processability of the use of these materials.

The analysis of the products of the world's leading manufacturers of composite materials, such as Hexcel Corporation, TenCate (merging with Amber Composites), Cytec (merging with Umeco), etc., shows that the best characteristics for the manufacture of materials that withstand the outer space conditions are composites On the basis of cyanate-ether binders:

1) HexPly 996, HexPly 954-3 (Hexcel Corporation, USA);

2) BTCy-1, BTCy-1A, BTCy-2, BTCy-3A, EX-1515, RS-3; RS-3C, RS-9D, RS-12B, TC410, TC420 (TenCate, USA);

3) HTM 110, LTM 123, HTM 143, LTM 110 (Cytec (Umeco), USA).

This trend towards the use of cyanate-ether binders in the creation of carbon-fiber constructions of space vehicles is also confirmed by the fact that these materials were chosen for such high-tech structures as:

1) Paneling of honeycomb panels of a super-lightweight truck for delivery of equipment to the Hubble telescope;

2) Carcass and supporting structures of the mirror system of the James Webb space telescope;

3) Case private orbital aircraft Lynx Mark II.