Low-density Multifunctional Graphene Foam as an Explosion Suppression Material for Aircraft Fuel Tanks

M. Bakir, A. Coskun
Digital Materials LLC, United States

Keywords: nanomaterial, graphene, aircraft fuel tank, explosion suppression, flame retardancy

Digital Materials LLC demonstrated the technical feasibility of graphene foam as a novel explosion suppression material for aircraft fuel tanks under SBIR Phase I project with the U.S. Navy. Polyurethane foam is the existing technology used in air vehicle fuel tanks yet causes long maintenance periods. On the other hand, graphene foam has a unique material form with promising physical properties. Graphene foam has a macrocellular reticulated uniform morphology which would minimize the fuel sloshing inside the tank. It demonstrates significant compressibility performance with energy absorption ability to suppress the blast pressure. Moreover, graphene foam does not experience any thermomechanical softening to maintain structural integrity at high temperatures. Graphene foam shows excellent thermal decomposition stability at combustion/burning temperatures for extended durations indicating material reliability against deflagration. Graphene foam is not flammable material and does not catch fire upon interaction with fuel flames. It has a unique self-extinguishing feature, beyond the flame-retardancy feature of polyurethane foam. Accordingly, graphene foam can contain the explosion effect within the fuel tank, and yield flameless and substantially suppressed detonations. Small-scale propane explosion test validated the performance reliability of graphene foam under blast pressure and energy as well as deflagration temperature.