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Proceedings Paper

Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fiber epoxy composite hybridized with Gadolinium and Boron nanoparticles for radiation shielding
Author(s): Venkat Mani; Narasimha S. Prasad; Ajit Kelkar
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Paper Abstract

Deep space radiations pose a major threat to the astronauts and their spacecraft during long duration space exploration missions. The two sources of radiation that are of concern are the galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) and the short lived secondary neutron radiations that are generated as a result of fragmentation that occurs when GCR strikes target nuclei in a spacecraft. Energy loss, during the interaction of GCR and the shielding material, increases with the charge to mass ratio of the shielding material. Hydrogen with no neutron in its nucleus has the highest charge to mass ratio and is the element which is the most effective shield against GCR. Some of the polymers because of their higher hydrogen content also serve as radiation shield materials. Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) fibers, apart from possessing radiation shielding properties by the virtue of the high hydrogen content, are known for extraordinary properties. An effective radiation shielding material is the one that will offer protection from GCR and impede the secondary neutron radiations resulting from the fragmentation process. Neutrons, which result from fragmentation, do not respond to the Coulombic interaction that shield against GCR. To prevent the deleterious effects of secondary neutrons, targets such as Gadolinium are required. In this paper, the radiation shielding studies that were carried out on the fabricated sandwich panels by vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM) process are presented. VARTM is a manufacturing process used for making large composite structures by infusing resin into base materials formed with woven fabric or fiber using vacuum pressure. Using the VARTM process, the hybridization of Epoxy/UHMWPE composites with Gadolinium nanoparticles, Boron, and Boron carbide nanoparticles in the form of sandwich panels were successfully carried out. The preliminary results from neutron radiation tests show that greater than 99% shielding performance was achieved with these sandwich panels. Moreover, the mechanical testing and thermo-physical analysis performed show that core materials can preserve their thermo-physical and mechanical integrity after radiation.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 September 2016
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 9981, Planetary Defense and Space Environment Applications, 99810D (22 September 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2240135
Show Author Affiliations
Venkat Mani, AmChemteq, Inc. (United States)
Narasimha S. Prasad, NASA Langley Research Ctr. (United States)
Ajit Kelkar, North Carolina A&T State Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9981:
Planetary Defense and Space Environment Applications
Gary B. Hughes, Editor(s)

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