Total Carbide, a hardmetal product manufacturer based in Buckinghamshire, has signed up to the national SPRINT business innovation support programme. SPRINT will provide Total Carbide with funded access to space-related expertise and facilities at The Open University. The project will enable Total Carbide to reduce the weight and increase the strength of its throat nozzles for rocket and space propulsion systems by replacing the tungsten-based alloy with a new material.
Total Carbide produces throat nozzles, a finely-tuned part of a propulsion system that provides the right amount of thrust to propel rockets and satellites. With SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) support, the company will work with StressMap, the materials characterisation and measurement services business unit of The Open University, to test and measure new materials, designed to reduce the weight of the throat nozzle component by improving the material properties.
Currently, throat nozzles are made from Tungsten Alloys, which provide sufficient heat resistance, wear resistance and strength. Tungsten is heavy and so Total Carbide is adding Hexotene, an innovative 2d material produced by Total Carbide’s parent company Versarien, into a heat resistant ceramic which will increase its strength and enable a more lightweight solution.
The £4.8 million SPRINT programme provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities to help businesses develop new commercial products for space and other key sectors.
SPRINT is supported by Research England and is being delivered by a consortium of five of the UK’s leading space universities, led by the University of Leicester and including the University of Edinburgh, The Open University, University of Southampton and University of Surrey.
Andreas Hohmann, Managing Director at Total Carbide said: “The new material will provide us with stronger and lighter throat nozzle products to take to markets such as aerospace and medical, so accurate and reliable testing and measurement will be key to the production process. We chose to work with The Open University through the funded SPRINT programme because of their residual stress expertise and the facilities available at the Materials Testing Laboratory, which can’t be matched cost-effectively by a commercial organisation.”
Jeferson Oliveira, PhD at StressMap and The Open University, added: “StressMap was founded as a business unit at The Open University in 2013 and through the university, we have access to state-of-the-art labs and facilities. We’re delighted that SPRINT has provided us with the opportunity to collaborate with Total Carbide on this important project to develop enhanced products for propulsion systems.”