How can different materials be combined so that large but at the same time lightweight components and structures for rocket engines, ship engines and hydrogen tanks can be manufactured? This question is being worked out by a consortium of research institutes and industry, including the DLR Institute of Space Propulsion, under the leadership of the Chair of Materials Engineering for Additive Manufacturing at the Technical University of Munich.
The DISCO 2030 project (combining DISsimilar materials into functional large-scale and lightweight COmponents and structures) is part of the European Commission's "Horizon Europe" innovation funding program. The aim is to develop and demonstrate two novel hybrid manufacturing processes up to technology maturity level 6 for combining different metal-metal and metal-polymer materials to produce lightweight multifunctional components with complex geometries. In the future, these will be used in demanding environments such as marine engines, hydrogen tanks or even rocket engines.
An industrial project participant is designing 3D-printed rocket combustion chambers made of multi-material components for this purpose. To this end, DLR researchers are conducting CFD analyses on DLR's CARA supercomputer in order to better understand the relationships between pressure, temperature, resulting losses and efficiencies during operation. These research results are then incorporated into the design and manufacture of a research combustor, which is subsequently tested intensively on the P8 research and technology test facility at DLR's Lampoldshausen site. The focus here is on tests of ignition, combustion instability, cooling of the rocket combustion chamber, and material fatigue in order to determine service life. The institute has around €800,000 at its disposal for these activities as part of the three-year project.