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Polymeric liner

Development of coating for the rocket propellant tank composed of carbon fiber reinforced plastics and polymeric liner

Development of polymeric liner

Project duration: 2010 to 2013

Company director: Martin Navratil, Ph.D.

Composite materials are being considered for use on future generations of reusable launch vehicles in effort to reduce the overall vehicle weight. I this estimated, that simply by switching to composite materials for fuel tanks, the weight of the tank can be reduced to 40 %, which translates to a savings of 14 % in total vehicle weight.

Recently the fuel tanks are made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) that are based on commercial epoxy systems. With the rapid development of launchers and superconductive technologies, epoxy resins and their composites are increasingly applied in the cryogenic engineering fields. The problem can occur when thermosetting epoxy resins are employed in extremely low temperature environments (eg. liquid nitrogen medium 77K). Therefore, the surface of CFRP must be protected by polymeric liner with low gaspermeability and high toughness.

The goal of the project, which was run in close cooperation with EADS CASA, was to develop sufficiently effective barrier based on thermosetting polymers. During the project, SYNPO has created both entirely new composite materials, but also utilized the unique techniques for evaluating permeability of gases through such materials. Part of the work was also a modification of selected polymer systems using appropriate nanostructures.

To fulfill the highly demanding requirements on the project results, SYNPO has developed several model systems including various ways of deposition with plasma pretreatment.

The results of this project will be beneficial not only for this very specific application, but they can also be applied in other industrial fields. It is currently considered for the layout of pressure vessels.


The company was established in 1952 as a Research Institute for Synthetic Resins and Lacquers, has always been a leading representative of applied research and development of polymers. Since 1992, SYNPO is a profit-making company, targeted at contract research and development and formulations of synthetic polymers, paints, composites and adhesives; production of paints, tolling of specialties in polymer chemistry; process development in pilot plant and production equipment; analysis of polymer materials, and testing in accredited laboratories.

The research departments acquired long-year experience in synthesis and application of polyacrylics, epoxies, polyurethanes, polyesters, alkyds, and many hybrid products, which involve various properties of these polymers. SYNPO is an established (20 years) producer of two-component paints, mainly polyurethane ones, for industrial applications.

What would you name as main benefits of the project to you and your company?

“SYNPO’s participation in this project is a result of forty years’ experience in the field of composites application for commercial customers and long term work in the field of nanoparticles applications in epoxy systems. Cooperation with ESA is the result of long term experience of SYNPO and we very appreciate this possibility. Very beneficial was also the opportunity of direct cooperation with EADS CASA, because it enabled us to work in a top field of application of composites, thus making use of all experience and knowledge acquired.”