IAI will Develop a New Nondestructive Evaluation Tool for In Situ Determination of the Remaining Useful Life of Protective Ablative Lining

The polymer thermal protection system (TPS) liner in missile launch systems includes ablative panels made from polymeric composites, to divert extremely hot rocket exhaust away from critical structures. The amount of erosion of the ablative lining determines the life of the module structure. IAI will develop a new Nondestructive Evaluator for Polymer Ablatives (NEPAL) tool for in situ determination of the remaining useful life of the protective ablative lining. NEPAL will use a new non-destructive examination (NDE) technique to make a prediction on ablative material lining life, improving on the current pre-determinations being made in lab tests.

NEPAL will be particularly useful when multipurpose vertical launch systems (VLSs) launch a variety of increasingly powerful rockets. It can also be used in existing missile launch systems integrated with Navy ship structures, such as the Mk 41 vertical launch system (VLS), where the rocket exhaust must be diverted vertically upwards through the plenum and the uptake. These sections are lined with ablative polymers of varying thicknesses to protect the structure from intense heat produced by rocket exhaust.

The NEPAL system will also have many commercial applications in industries that use TPS, including aerospace and furnace refractory manufacturing. NEPAL can help evaluate ablative linings that are used for thermal protection of structural components of space vehicles during the re-entry stage, missile launching systems, and solid rocket motors (SRMs). The expanding civil aerospace industry can also use NEPAL to ensure reliable evaluation of the deployed TPS material.

For more information on IAI’s NEPAL tool or to find out how IAI can develop a custom non-destructive evaluation solution for you, contact us at contact@i-a-i.com.