Enabling & Support

Manufacturing of a Ceramic Article from a Metal Preform Provided by 3D-Printing

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Engineering & Technology
638 - Abstract:
In space, a trend towards hydrogen peroxide propellants is noticeable. An improved catalytic bed based on a solid catalytic ceramic substrate lattice is advantageous regarding this trend. As the production of catalytic ceramic lattices with additive manufacturing is difficult, a new production method was developed. Licence agreements are sought.

Description:

With the invented method, 3D ceramic lattices are produced, for instance, for use in catalytic applications. The ceramic article is manufactured by using a 3D-printed or 3D-weaved metal preform. The preform is placed in a gas-filled heating chamber exposed to a predetermined time-temperature profile. This leads to a controlled metal-gas reaction of the preform with a gas. At least, a part of the preform transforms into a ceramic.

Using this method for space, a catalytic ceramic lattice can be manufactured by 3D-printing the structure as a metallic form and then carrying out a special two-stage heat and oxidation treatment afterwards. The metal turns to an oxide in a controlled manner. This treatment is then followed by a chemical treatment to wash the catalyst on to the surface in nanoparticulate form.

3D lattice
3D lattice

Innovations and advantages:

  • High cost reduction in comparison to current methods.
  • Down to nano-size control over the spatial configuration of the material and the inner structure of a porous or lattice-type ceramic article.
  • Avoids loose powder as in state-of-the-art techniques.
  • Less ageing and degradation of thrusters performance, increased reliability.

Domain of application:

Apart from the original propose for which this invention has been designed (ionic thrusters), the catalytic ceramic lattices obtained might also provide benefits for different processes like:

  • Gas purification by dehydration or desulfurization
  • Crude hydro-processing
  • Vehicle or industry emission purification
  • Bad smell removal
  • Energy saving heat exchange applications (steel works and metallurgy industry)
  • Biomedical applications (artificial ceramic-based tissues that allow oxygen supply).

Many companies and end-users from the chemical, materials, manufacturing, automotive, biomedical and energy sectors, could be interested in this invention.

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