Real-time monitoring of transverse thermal strain of carbon fiber reinforced composites under long-term space environment using fiber optic sensors

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Composites are promising alternatives for space structures because of their versatile characteristics such as high specific stiffness and strength. When composite structures are exposed to the space environments (low Earth orbit, LEO), however, they are known to undergo considerable temperature change induced by the direct sunlight and the Earth's shadow in addition to ultraviolet, high vacuum, atomic oxygen and so forth. Therefore, for the successful completion of their missions, it is important for the structures to maintain the consistent dimensional stability in such a thermal cycling condition. The coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) of the structures is suitable to express the dimensional stability, and it is needed to be monitored throughout the mission. For this purpose, fiber optic sensors, which have many advantages, were investigated to check their suitability in this paper. Two fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors have been adopted for the simultaneous measurement of thermal strain and temperature to get the CTE change of a carbon/epoxy composite laminate. LEO conditions with high vacuum, ultraviolet and thermal cycling environments were simulated in a thermal vacuum chamber. As a pre-test, a FBG temperature sensor was calibrated and a FBG strain sensor was evaluated through the comparison with the electric strain gauge (ESG) attached on an aluminum specimen in the same temperature range as the thermal cycling. The change of the transverse CTE in a composite laminate exposed to the space environment was measured for intervals of aging cycles in real time. As a whole, there was no abrupt change of the CTE after 1000 aging cycles. After aging, however, the CTE decreased a little all over the test temperature range. These changes are thought to have been caused by outgassing, moisture desorption, matrix cracking, etc. In this paper, embedding application of FBG sensors to composites operated under space environment and their successful real-time monitoring of thermal deformations over a long time was shown.
Publisher
ELSEVIER SCI LTD
Issue Date
2009-07
Language
English
Article Type
Article
Keywords

BRAGG GRATING SENSORS; TEMPERATURE; DEGRADATION

Citation

NDT & E INTERNATIONAL, v.42, no.5, pp.361 - 368

ISSN
0963-8695
DOI
10.1016/j.ndteint.2009.01.001
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10203/99076
Appears in Collection
AE-Journal Papers(저널논문)
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