Construction of a multi-functional cryogenic propellant tank with cross-linked silica aerogel
Aerogels are low-density nanostructured porous materials, whose practical applications have been limited by their poor mechanical properties. Crosslinking the nanoparticle building blocks of silica aerogels with polymeric tethers increases both the modulus and the strength significantly. The polymer coating preserves the mesoporous structure of the silica framework while retaining its low thermal conductivity. The uniqueness of crosslinked silica aerogel has load carrying capabilities in which are determined in tensile, compression and flexural bending tests. Crosslinked silica aerogel testing displays specific compressive strength of 389000 Nm/Kg. Ballistic testing of crosslinked silica aerogel also corroborates its mechanical properties displaying a ballistic limit up to 80 m/s. Its thermal conductivity at 0.041 W/mK supports the use of crosslinked silica aerogel in cryogenic fuel cell applications. Manufacturing practices have been evaluated to obtain an optimal process which reduces time, money and difficulty.