Route to Impact
Breakthrough technology designed to cut the weight of throat nozzles for rockets is being designed and manufactured at the Westcott Venture Park by Total Carbide.
Andreas Hohmann, Total Carbide’s Managing Director sees the value in attending the frequent Space Innovators networking events at the Westcott Business Incubation Centre (BIC). Here, knowledge sharing and introductions to new opportunities such as learning about sources of additional revenue streams and smart technology processes that can be used in strategic growth areas of rocket propulsion, 5G communications, drones and other autonomous systems are the norm.
The new material will provide us with stronger and lighter throat nozzle products to take to markets such as aerospace and medical. Accurate and reliable testing and measurement will be key to this production process. We chose to work with The Open University through the funded SPRINT programme because of its residual stress expertise and the facilities available at the Materials Testing Laboratory, which can’t be matched cost-effectively by a commercial organisation.
Total Carbide is designing technology that will transform throat nozzles that provide the right amount of thrust to propel rockets and satellites. Currently, its throat nozzles are made from heavy tungsten alloys to provide sufficient strength plus heat and wear resistance. Now the company is adding Hexotene, an innovative 2d material developed by Total Carbide’s parent company Versarien into a heat resistant ceramic which will be used to provide a more lightweight solution.
At a recent Space Innovators BIC event Total Carbide’s MD learnt about the national Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology (SPRINT) programme. This helps businesses to test, measure and improve new materials.
The SPRINT programme provided Total Carbide with funded access to space-related expertise and facilities at StressMap, (the materials characterisation and measurement services business unit) at The Open University. This programme provides access to university space, expertise and facilities to help businesses develop new commercial products for Space and other key sectors. It is supported by Research England, the Catapult is a member of the steering board and is being delivered by a consortium of five of the UK’s leading Space universities; led by the University of Leicester and including The Open University and the Universities of Edinburgh, Southampton & Surrey.
In addition to this, another Westcott Space Cluster event, led to Total Carbide running a special project, teaming their apprentices with postgraduate students from Cranfield University. The team competed as one the 122 teams in global competition: The Spaceport America Cup, organised by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association in New Mexico, USA.
The team entered a sounding rocket and although it launched successfully it didn’t win. However, it was a landmark achievement and benchmarked the team’s combined engineering skills transforming a design into reality.
Total Carbide is the leading European manufacturer of sintered Tungsten Carbide wear parts in a number of special materials such as tungsten alloys, silicon carbide, graphite, steel, titanium and aluminium for industries as diverse as engine parts for Rolls Royce and drilling components for global oil companies.
The Westcott BIC continues to support business growth by connecting businesses with each other and research experts to form new commercial and collaborative partnerships. To this end Total Carbide has recently been introduced to SteamJet, a Westcott BIC incubate who are developing a safer, compact and more affordable water-based propulsion system for CubeSats and Small Satellites.