Read our recent feature in Composites World Magazine: "Developing a Linerless, All-Composite, Spherical Cryotank"
"Infinite Composites Technologies’ Type V pressure vessel for storing cryogenic space launch vehicle propellants shows promise for eliminating elusive microcracking issues."
"However, all-composite designs for cryogenic fuels like liquid nitrogen or liquid oxygen tend to cause the elusive problem of microcracking in the laminate. As a composite laminate faces exposure to extreme temperatures such as cooling to cryogenic levels, the difference in coefficients of thermal expansion (CTE) between each ply can lead to cracking and leaks. Many resin systems also become brittle at cryogenic temperatures, exacerbating the issue. According to ICT’s CEO Matt Villarreal, Infinite Composites Technologies has developed a linerless cryotank that eliminates the microcracking issues.
According to Villarreal, all-composite cryogenic storage tanks — spherical ones, in particular, due to their smaller footprint — are considered by many to be a key enabling technology for long-term exploration and survival in space. Though many lunar landers in development by space agencies such as NASA incorporate a spherical tank design, he says, up to now spherical tanks have all been heavier, less fuel-efficient metallic spheres or spherical metallic composite-overwrapped pressure vessels (COPV). ICT’s all-composite tank, called the CryoSphere, offers potential for a lighter, more fuel-efficient option to store fuel."