uah p 18022

Docket: UAH-P-18022


Lightweight cryogenic fluid storage tanks for propulsion are fundamental components of spacecraft. Full metal tanks do not offer substantial weight savings over fully composite tanks. A compromise to this uses composite overlay pressure vessel (COPV) technology, where a metal liner for leak-free containment is wrapped with composite for pressure resistance. Metal-lined COPVs are currently used because lighter-weight linerless tanks have not met performance requirements due to microcracking and leakage.

Researchers at UAH have developed a technology that enables the problematic bonding of Kapton to the carbon fiber/epoxy composite tank by using a specially formulated adhesive. This allows the Kapton to replace the metal liner in the tank as well as creating part of the mandrel onto which the composite tank will be formed and adhered to. Cryogenic properties of the Kapton, in conjunction with the special epoxy, enable a novel lightweight tank structure for cryogenic liquid storage.

This technology was tested in various conditions and the bond between Kapton and the epoxy maintained its integrity. Applications for this technology include tanks (room temperature, cryogenic fluids and gases, and high pressure) for commercial spacecraft, storage of hydrogen for zero-emission terrestrial vehicles, and pipes for cryogenic fluid transmission.


  • Tanks for commercial spacecraft
  • Storage for hydrogen
  • Pipes for cryogenic fluid transmission


  • No microcracking when exposed to cryogens
  • Lightweight


  • State of Development: Prototype
  • Licensing Status: Available for licensing
  • Patent Status: Proprietary