How nanotech will help the U.S. military reach Mach 5

Carbon nanotubes are showing promise as strong, lightweight material that rapidly sheds heat, writes Kyle Mizokami for Popular Mechanics.

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Raytheon

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is pushing into hypersonic weapons in a big way, with at least five different weapons programs currently in development. Nanotechnology is shaping up to be a key tech that will enable delivery systems to survive traveling through the atmosphere at Mach 5 and above, with carbon nanotubes showing promise as strong, lightweight material that rapidly sheds heat, writes Kyle Mizokami for Popular MechanicsContinue reading original article

The Intelligent Aerospace take:

November 21, 2019- Speed causes friction, so with the U.S. Department of Defense focusing on hypersonic weapons, engineers are tasked with keeping things cool at super speeds for a long duration. The SR-71's skin gets up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit at Mach 3. At Mach 10, steel will melt. Hypersonics may get up to Mach 24. One way hypersonics may endure incredible temperatures brought about by friction with carbon nanotubes.

Measuring just a billionth of a meter wide, carbon nanotubes are 100 times stronger than steel and weigh just one 16th as much.

“Carbon nanotubes have magnitudes higher in-plane thermal conductivity than carbon fiber,” researcher Ayou Hao explained to Defense One in an email. “Once heat reaches the carbon nanotube thermal protection layer surface, it is quickly dispatched.”  

Related: Raytheon, DARPA complete key design review for new hypersonic weapon

Related: Hermeus hypersonic jet aims to fly New York to London in 90 minutes

Related: U.S. Army selects Lockheed Martin for hypersonic program

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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