Simulated space aging of polymeric high voltage insulators



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Texas Tech University


The aging of polymeric high voltage insulators used in spacecrafts is a process which is not well understood. Aging is generally thought to involve chemical reaction of the material with the environment, perhaps augmented by electromagnetic radiation, which induce changes in the response properties of the polymeric materials. The situation is further complicated, in a typical application, by the possible existence of several simultaneous stresses. These are diffusion, thermal, electrical, and mechanical stress. There are serious questions whether available properties and analyses can accurately predict the response to applied loads in the short term, not to mention in the long term. In an effort to provide quantitative information on material response that can be used to verify analyses as well as develop a better understanding of the space aging process, the mechanisms of thermal cycling, chemical diffusion, electrical stress, and mechanical stress will be evaluated when applied separately, or in multiple combinations.

The objective of this project is to design, build, and establish the operation of a space simulation chamber with thermal cycling capability in both vacuum and inert environments. The chamber will facilitate a variety of tests to be conducted by students in Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry as an interdisciplinary team effort.



Plastics -- Deterioration, Electric insulators and insulation -- Plastics, Space vehicles -- Materials -- Environmental testing, Insulating materials -- Effect of radiation on