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Technology Opportunity: Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC)


This invention is available for licensing from NASA’s space program to benefit U.S. industry. The Toughened Uni-Piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC) represents an exciting leap in reusable thermal protection systems (TPS) technology that allows for much more affordable and sustainable operations involving Space Launch Services and other systems that utilize Earth re-entry vehicles. TUFROC has an exposed surface design and appropriate materials combination for a space vehicle that will survive the mechanical stresses induced in the initial ascent and will subsequently survive the extreme heating and mechanically stressful environment of re-entry. It provides a thermal protection tile attachment system, suitable for application to a space vehicle leading edge and for other uses in extreme heating environments (up to 3600° F., and possibly higher, for short time intervals).



• Flight tested
• Survives high heat fluxes 3600 ° F. and above
• Light weight
• Modular, therefore easily replaceable
• Low cost to fabricate and maintain
• Easier to design - can be fabricated and tested in various configurations
• Reusable thermal protection system
• Provides a composite insulating structure


Technology Detail

The invention includes an exposed surface cap having a specially formulated coating, an insulator base adjacent to the cap with another specially formulated coating, and one or more pins that extend from the cap through the insulator base to tie the cap and base together through ceramic bonding and mechanical attachment. The cap and insulator base have corresponding depressions and projections that mate and allow for differences in thermal expansion of the cap and base. The cap includes a high temperature, low density, carbonaceous, fibrous material whose surface is optionally treated with a HETC formulation, the fibrous material being drawn from the group consisting of silicon carbide foam and similar porous, high temperature materials. The insulator base and pin(s) contain similar material. The mechanical design is arranged so that thermal expansion differences in the component materials (e.g., cap and insulator base) are easily tolerated, and is applicable to both sharp and blunt leading edge vehicles. This extends the possible application of fibrous insulation to the wing leading edge and/or nose cap on a hypersonic vehicle. The lightweight system comprises a treated carbonaceous cap composed of Refractory Oxidation-resistant Ceramic Carbon Insulation (ROCCI), which provides dimensional stability to the outer mold line, while the fibrous base material provides maximum thermal insulation for the vehicle structure. The composite has graded surface treatments applied by impregnation to both the cap and base. These treatments enable it to survive in an aero-convectively heated environment of high-speed planetary entry. The exact cap and base materials are chosen in combination with the surface treatments, taking into account the duration of exposure and expected surface temperatures for the particular application.

Commercial Applications

• Reentry vehicles
• Spacecraft
• Race cars
• Heating elements for furnaces
• Any application that require thermal protection surfaces
• Aircraft
• Turbine engines
• Automobiles


This technology has been patented (U.S. Patent 7,381,459; 7,314,648). Reference: ARC- 15201-1; ARC-15201-2.

Licensing and Partnering Opportunities

NASA’s Technology Transfer Program seeks to transfer this technology out of NASA's space program to benefit U.S. industry. NASA invites companies to inquire about licensing possibilities for this technology for commercial applications.

For More Information

If you would like more information about this technology, please contact:
Technology Partnerships Division
NASA Ames Research Center

Printable Fact Sheet: Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC)


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Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC)
Various Configurations of TUFROC
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Page Last Updated: November 28th, 2014
Page Editor: Yael Kovo