ICT Project


Credits: Microstructures obtained upon thermal treatment in air of Ultra High Ceramic Matrix Composites @ ISTEC-CNR

C3harme combines the best features of ceramics to develop a new material for spacecrafts


From June 1, 2016 to May 31, 2020

Description of the challenges faced by the ICT-Project

As the aerospace industry advances towards hypersonic flight (Mach 5 or above – fast enough to travel from London to New York in under 1 hour), the quest for new, ground-breaking aircraft concepts has begun. High-speed aviation needs advanced materials that can survive extreme conditions. The combination of exceptionally hot temperatures, chemically aggressive environments, and rapid heating and cooling is beyond the capabilities of current materials. C³HARME partners have come together to design, develop and manufacture materials that will overcome the intrinsic problems of hypersonic flights. This new class of materials needs to be reliable, cost-effective and scalable. They must also be capable of in-situ repair of the damage caused during operation in severe aerospace environments. Rocket nozzles will then be able to withstand extreme temperatures and harsh environments at launch and re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Brief description of technology

Technologies available at University of Birmingham, UK: UHTCMCs preparation by chemical vapour infiltration. In this process a gas is heated to a temperature at which it decomposes to yield a solid, which deposits amongst the carbon fibres making up the preform. Material analysis with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X ray microcomputer tomography. Sampling testing at temperatures >2,500 °C with torches based on oxyacetylene and oxypropane. Temperature distribution recorded using a thermal imaging camera, 2 color pyrometer and a thermocouple. Technologies available at ISTEC-CNR in Faenza, Italy: Production and characterization of High Tech ceramics including non-oxides (black ceramics) and oxides (white ceramics), Ceramic matrix composites with carbon fibers (UHTCMCs). Processing methods include: Linear and cold isostatic pressing; slip Casting in gypsum moulds; sintering in special furnaces: High vacuum up to 1800°C, clean furnace; Hot pressing up to 2000°C; pressureless sintering up to 2500°C; sintering in Air furnaces up to 1800°C; cold sintering (150°C) and room temperature consolidation; coating technology and nanotechnology. Characterization methods include scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and optical microscopy.

What the project is looking to gain from the collaboration and what kind of artist would be suitable

C3HARME has now almost completed its first year of activity and the well-established partnership has proved to be working well towards the project objectives. Good progress has been made so far, and the consortium will shortly start the mechanical testing of materials. Having an artistic residency at this stage would represent a unique opportunity to explore the ongoing research and the produced materials from another point of view and with the intellectual contribution of an artist. Not only would this input constitute an enrichment for the research personnel involved, gaining a fresh perspective in the artistic contamination, but also it would help the general public to get a grasp of the project scope and wider vision. During the hosting period, the very specific and technical focus of C3HARME will be opened to interpretations, raising different questions and generating new understandings of the science behind the project. The artistic input might lead to new applications of the developed material and products, as already conceived by the Consortium. The C3HARME material can be applied for example to other fields facing similar needs such as the energy sector. The final exhibit will help in promoting the project, and it would constitute a more engaging channel to reach non-scientific audiences. This kind of experience will surely boost the project communication and raise awareness among the consortium on science communication and its more innovative forms. Procedure available to the artists at the C3HARME partners ISTEC-CNR and UoB includes the design, manufacture and testing of Ultra High Temperature Ceramic Matrix Composites (UHTCMCs). Artists that are familiar with nanotechnologies, ceramics or some of the related techniques are preferred to speed the acquisition process of the peculiar features within C3HARME’s framework.

Resources available to the artist

Available at both ISTEC-CNR (Faenza, Italy) and UoB (Birmingham, UK): access to all the laboratory and facilities involved in the project for the materials preparation, technical equipment and 1-2 personnel of permanent staff available for help. The artist will also have at his/her disposal a desk at the partner’s offices, internet connection and access to the main building facilities (library, etc.). At UoB the artist is expected to stay no more than a few weeks to capture the information required. INsrl will also provide two employees (a project manager and a communication manager) available for help and that will assist the artist in getting to know the project, communicating with the partners and give visibility to the residency.

  • hot_pressing_furnace.jpg  ISTEC-CNR
    hot_pressing_furnace.jpg ISTEC-CNR
  • OAT-OPT.jpg  University of Birmingham
    OAT-OPT.jpg University of Birmingham