Stochastic modeling of elastic behavior of fibrous ablators

Mujan N. Seif, Sean M. McDaniel, Matthew J. Beck, Alexandre Martin

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Ablative materials in thermal protection systems (TPS) are used in aerospace applications to protect passengers and payload from critical degradation in high temperature conditions. The standard ablator, phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA), is composed of carbon fibers embedded in a phenolic resin. Because the fibers are oriented randomly in the transverse plane, properties are not isotropic throughout the material. However, they are generally simplified to an imprecise macroscopic average that neglect local variations entirely. Here, we present a stochastic modeling approach that allows for assessment of properties as a function of local structure. The approach includes a computational toolkit for generating physically-motivated model representative volume elements (mRVEs), which are confirmed to exhibit transverse isotropy, just as PICA. We also present a methodology for computing the probability density functions of elastic properties for sets of mRVEs. Based on our results, local variation in fiber geometry within ablatives must be a major design consideration moving forward.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2021
EventAIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, AIAA SciTech Forum 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jan 11 2021Jan 15 2021


ConferenceAIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, AIAA SciTech Forum 2021
CityVirtual, Online

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research presented here was supported by NASA SpaceTech-REDDI-2017-ESI-80NSSC18K0261. as well as Ms. Seif’s NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Fellowship. Special thanks to M. Wright and M. Barnhardt (NASA Ames Research Center), as well as to T. Schwartzentruber (University of Minnesota) for facilitating this project. Additional support was provided by NASA Kentucky under NASA award No: NNX15AR69H.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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