PhD Defense by Adam Sidor

Event Details
  • Date/Time:
    • Friday November 30, 2018
      12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
  • Location: Montgomery Knight Building, Room 317 (MK 317)
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Summary Sentence: Design and Manufacturing of Conformal Ablative Heatshields

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Ph.D. Thesis Defense


Adam Sidor

(Advisors: Prof. Robert Braun and Prof. Graeme Kennedy)

“Design and Manufacturing of Conformal Ablative Heatshields”


Friday, November 30 at 12 p.m.
Montgomery Knight Building, Room 317 (MK 317)

Conformal ablators, first introduced in the early 2000s under the NASA Hypersonics Project, are a type of rigid ablative thermal protection system that uses flexible, rather than rigid, fibrous substrates. These materials are impregnated with resin in a mold to yield a part that is close to the final geometry and requires little post-process machining (a near net shape part). The lack of fiber connectivity through the thickness enables the TPS to tolerate larger strains than comparable rigid substrate ablators facilitating larger tiles and installation on most aeroshells without strain isolation.  Reduced part count and simplified integration drive reductions in labor, cost and complexity – advancements which are enabling for planetary and human missions.

Conformal ablators are currently fabricated using an open liquid impregnation process adapted from a technique developed for Lightweight Ceramic Ablators, such as Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator, which leads to design and manufacturing inefficiencies. This work advanced a new manufacturing technique for conformal ablators, vacuum infusion processing, that reduces resin consumption and streamlines clean up. The closed process also eliminates an expensive atmosphere-controlled oven or vacuum chamber.

A design methodology, centered around a simulation of the mold filling process, was developed to tailor a conformal ablative heatshield to vacuum infusion processing. A constitutive model, combining properties of individual components, was formulated to estimate the properties of the composite TPS material. The methodology leverages this model, integrated with material selection, tile layout, and the mold filling simulation, to automate a conceptual conformal heatshield design. The approach allows rapid iteration on TPS composition and manufacturing constraints.


  • Prof. Robert Braun (Advisor) – School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Prof. Graeme Kennedy (Co-Advisor) – School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Prof. Julian Rimoli – School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Ms. Robin Beck – Entry Systems and Vehicle Development Branch, NASA Ames Research Center
  • Dr. Margaret Stackpoole – Thermal Protection Materials Branch, NASA Ames Research Center


Additional Information

In Campus Calendar

Graduate Studies

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Faculty/Staff, Public, Undergraduate students
Phd Defense
  • Created By: Tatianna Richardson
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Nov 8, 2018 - 9:36am
  • Last Updated: Nov 8, 2018 - 9:36am