Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Engineering and Applied Science


Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Hui, David

Second Advisor

Herrington, Paul

Third Advisor

Wang, Ting

Fourth Advisor

Kura, Bhaskar

Fifth Advisor

Wei, Dongming


Fiber reinforced plastics offer advantageous specific strength and stiffness compared to metals and has been identified as candidates for the reusable space transportation systems primary structures including cryogenic tanks. A number of carbon and aramid fiber reinforced plastics have been considered for the liquid hydrogen tanks. Materials selection is based upon mechanical properties and containment performance (long and short term) and upon manufacturing considerations. The liquid hydrogen tank carries shear, torque, end load, and bending moment due to gusts, maneuver, take-off, landing, lift, drag, and fuel sloshing. The tank is pressurized to about 1.5 atmosphere (14.6psi or 0.1MPa) differential pressure and on ascent maintains the liquid hydrogen at a temperature of 20K. The objective of the research effort is to lay the foundation for developing the technology required for reliable prediction of the effects of various design, manufacturing, and service parameters on the susceptibility of composite tanks to develop excessive permeability to cryogenic fuels. Efforts will be expended on developing the materials and structural concepts for the cryogenic tanks that can meet the functional requirements. This will include consideration for double wall composite sandwich structures, with inner wall to meet the cryogenic requirements. The structure will incorporate nanoparticles for properties modifications and developing barriers. The main effort will be extended to tank wall’s internal skin design. The main requirements for internal composite stack are: • introduction of barrier film (e.g. honeycomb material paper sheet) to reduce the wall permeability to hydrogen, • introduction of nanoparticles into laminate resin to prevent micro-cracking or crack propagation. There is a need to characterize and analyze composite sandwich structural damage due to burning and explosion. Better understanding of the flammability and blast resistance of the composite structures needs to be evaluated.


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