Pangea Aerospace, a company developing efficient and modern rocket engines to tackle the challenges of a transforming space industry, and Aenium, a company specialised in metal additive manufacturing technologies and material science, have sealed an industrial partnership for the development and industrialisation of advanced combustion devices focused on advanced 3D printed processes and materials.
The agreement formalised between both companies ensures a breakthrough in engineering complex combustion devices and drives the analysis of different types of advanced super alloys so far untreated for the most demanding applications within the space sector.
Pangea assigns the R&D, manufacturing and industrialisation of their new Aerospike demonstrator to their consortium for achieving a successful hot-fire test by the end of 2021. Aenium research, develop, qualify the new supper-alloys and industrialise the propulsion components through their innovative in-house material science capabilities and additive manufacturing industrial plant designing on-demand metallurgy inside the propulsion components achieving the most advanced thermo-mechanical behaviours.
In addition, the partnership will also bring to the EU market the first GRCop 42 industrialised unit to enable other space companies to access the most advanced propulsion solutions through additive manufacturing.
“Aenium is the perfect partner to advance quicker into our roadmap, and we are very excited to sign an agreement with a cutting-edge additive manufacturing start-up like them,” stated Adrià Argemi, CEO of Pangea Aerospace. “The agreement with Aenium goes beyond shared exclusive capabilities on GRCop42 in Europe, a copper material specifically developed for rocket engines.
“Aenium also brings an unmatched expertise and R&D capability in processes and materials. GRCop42 based alloys are one of the key solutions that allow us to solve the thermal challenges of an aerospike nozzle rocket engines. We are now ready to offer this unique capability to all the European aerospace sector.”
GRCop-42 is a high conductivity, high-strength alloy for use in high heat flux applications such as liquid rocket engines and other combustion devices. This NASA-developed copper-chrome-niobium alloy was developed for harsh environments specific to regeneratively-cooled combustion chambers and nozzles with good oxidation resistance.
Aerospike engine can radically transform space propulsion thanks to its higher efficiency (up to 15% than currently used rocket engines), reusability capabilities and very low-cost and rapid manufacturing. The company is currently manufacturing DemoP1 and will perform a hot-fire campaign in Q3 2021.
DemoP1 is a liquid oxygen and methane aerospike engine demonstrator designed to characterise and validate several key enabling technologies for future aerospike developments: the use of methane as a fuel, its manufacturing methodology, developed together with Aenium, a dual regenerative cooling system – exploiting both propellants to cool it down- and the design for reusability.
Several aerospike engines have been developed or conceptualised in history (J-2T, XRS-2200 and RS-2200) but none has ever flown. This is due to the engineering difficulties historically linked with aerospike nozzles: cooling and manufacturing. Now, additive manufacturing (AM) techniques and new materials, such as GrCop42 are enhancing the possibility to build a functional and economically viable aerospike engine at a fraction of the cost and time. The holy grail of propulsion is closer thanks to this agreement between Pangea Aerospace and Aenium.
New material science approach is now available based on rapid cooled microstructures and complex precipitated intermetallic elements achieving on-demand microstructures and thermomechanical properties driven by the LASER algorithms.
Pangea Aerospace has already started the preliminary design of its larger, commercially ready aerospike engine and its subsystems, that will benefit from this collaboration.
The agreement opens the door to a common service between Pangea Aerospace and Aenium for the European aerospace sector to access cutting edge materials. Aenium brings its expertise in material science and additive manufacturing process and Pangea Aerospace brings its expertise in propulsion system designs.
“This alliance will propel the next generation of reusable rocket engines, also bringing the opportunity to the EU market to improve their combustion devices with the most innovative material science and qualified industrial additive manufacturing,” stated Miguel Ampudia, CIO of Aenium.