Composite Pressure Vessel Capabilities

Composite Pressure Vessel Capabilities

Composite Pressure Vessel

White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) offers leading expertise in the testing, nondestructive evaluation (NDE), and analysis of composite material structures. WSTF performs stress rupture tests, damage tolerance, hydraulic and pneumatic burst tests, and environmental effects studies on composite pressure vessels. WSTF offers material compatibility testing and analysis, structural health data analysis and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) modeling, stress rupture life and damage control planning, and high pressure blast and fragmentation analysis.

Core Composites Work

  • Static strength (burst test)
  • Stress rupture (progressive failure)
  • Failure analysis
  • Blast and hazard effects
  • Damage tolerance
  • Life extension
  • Design optimization
  • Flight qualification

Health Characterization Measurements

  • Portable strain gauge systems (hundreds of channels)
  • Portable Acoustic Emission, felicity life and modal frequency analysis
  • Portable Digital Image Correlation strain measurement (50,000 fps)
  • Portable Color High-speed video (250, 000 fps)
  • Portable Eddy Current Measurement (composite compaction)
  • Portable Raman Spectroscopy (direct strain measurement
  • Portable fiber optic Bragg gratings
  • Volumetric strain
  • Diametric strain
  • Linear variable displacement measurement
  • Passive sensors
  • Pressurized borescope buckle monitoring

Nondestructive Evaluation

  • Thermography: pressurized, flash, heat soak and through transmission
  • Shearography
  • Laser profilometry
  • Ultrasonic testing
  • Acoustic Emission
  • Embedded Fiber optic health monitoring
  • Radiography
  • X-ray CT
  • Visual inspection
  • Raman Spectroscopy

Failure Analysis

Failure Analysis
  • Electron Microscopy
  • Thermal Analysis (TMA, TGA)
  • Metallographic preparation and inspection
  • Mechanical load testing (mechanical properties)
  • Micro-mechanical load testing in SEM (monitor microscopic failure)
  • Materials compatibility test under load (hazardous fluids and cryogens)
  • White light profilometry
  • Stereomicroscopy
  • Radiographic inspection
  • X-ray CT
  • Mechanical damage reverse engineering
  • Thermal deply analysis
  • Composite damage replication
  • Flammability and toxicity analysis
  • Micro-Meteroid Orbital Debris
  • ESCA analysis


  • Blast, Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion  (BLEVE), and fragmentation analysis
  • GENOA Progressive failure analysis and damage modeling
  • ICAN and CODSTRAN micro-mechanical analysis
  • NASTRAN finite element analysis
  • ABAQUS Composite Modeling
  • Composite strain life prediction
  • Acoustic Emission life prediction

WSTF-Developed Training Courses

Course for Damage to Carbon
  • NASA Composite Pressure Vessel Training (to ANSI/AIAA S-081A, AFSPCMAN 91-710)
  • Hypergol Systems: Design, Buildup, & Operation
  • Oxygen Systems: Operation & Maintenance
  • Fire Hazards in Oxygen Systems
  • NASA Standard Tests (Flammability)
  • Hydrogen Safety Training
  • Hypergolic Propellants Training
  • Introduction to Precision Cleaning
  • Composite Pressure Systems and Structure Nondestructive Evaluation

Developers of Composite Standards

  • Developers of collaborative standards between the Air Force, NASA, and other U.S. Government agencies (including U.S. national consensus organizations and international governments)
  • Members of AIAA Composite Pressure Vessel Standard Working Group
  • NGV2/HGV2 Standards Development Members of CSA America
  • Contributors to NGV/2 & HGV/2 exams for qualified visual inspection
  • Developers of composites NDE standards through ASTM
  • Lead supporters of NDE standards development through NASA NDE Working Group (NNWG)

Composite Customers & Interagency Collaboration

  • Composite Conference 2012
  • NASA
  • Air Force
  • Army
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Energy
  • Private industry


Composite Conference 2012 was co-hosted by White Sands Test Facility in August 2012. The conference focused on composite pressurized structures and vessels, bringing together the international composite community to discuss advances in composite performance, durability, and safety. The proceedings from Composite Conference 2012 have been compiled into an e-book for download.

For Other Composite Pressure Vessel Technical Reports and Publications, contact WSTF Materials and Components Laboratories at (575) 524-5723.

Page Last Updated: June 2nd, 2014
Page Editor: Judy Corbett