Aero-thermo-dynamic characterization of large-scale near-zero ablation thermal protection systems in ultra-high-temperature ceramic matrix composites

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


  • S. Mungiguerra
  • B. Esser
  • R. Savino
  • D. Sciti
  • M. A. Lagos
  • A. Schoberth
  • N. Gottschalk

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Universita degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
  • German Aerospace Center (DLR)
  • Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics
  • Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA)
  • Matra Marconi Space


This paper presents an extensive experimental campaign carried out, in the framework of the Horizon2020 project C3HARME, for the characterization of a new class of Ultra-High-Temperature Ceramic Matrix Composite (UHTCMC) materials for Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) of hypersonic vehicles. Eight different material formulations, all based on an Ultra-High-Temperature Ceramic (UHTC) matrix and carbon fiber reinforcement, but with slightly different compositions, fiber architectures and densification techniques, were tested in the arc-jet wind tunnel L3K at DLR in Cologne (Germany), in different configurations, according to an upscaling logic. First, flat button-shaped samples, with a diameter of 50 mm, were tested in a stagnation point configuration, reproducing conditions typical of atmospheric re-entry. These tests were divided into three phases to match different aerothermodynamic requirements extracted by a reference re-entry mission: 1) tests at nominal heat flux (around 2 MW/m2) and pressure below specification; 2) tests at nominal pressure (around 70 kPa) and heat flux above specification; 3) reusability tests at nominal heat flux. The most promising materials were then upscaled in order to manufacture and test a complete TPS assembly, with a large UHTCMC tile (240x190x4 mm3) and UHTCMC integration elements. The assemblies survived repeated tests without damage nor relevant erosion, thus achieving the objective Technology Readiness Level of 5.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: The C3HARME research project has received funding by the European Union's Horizon2020 research and innovation programme under the Grant Agreement n? 685594. Funding Information: The C3HARME research project has received funding by the European Union’s Horizon2020 research and innovation programme under the Grant Agreement n° 685594. Publisher Copyright: © 2020 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). All rights reserved. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event71st International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 12 Oct 202014 Oct 2020


  • Arc-jet wind tunnel test, Near-zero ablation, Stagnation tests, TPS assemblies, Ultra-high temperature ceramic matrix composites