AFRL Develops Hot Air Module
By Plans and Programs Directorate, AFRL/XP
/ Published December 12, 2006
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- AFRL and Karta Technologies, Inc., developed a hot air module (HAM) at the request of the B-2 Systems Group. The B-2 Systems Group requested a small, portable heat source with high-temperature capability to provide the heat and pressure needed to make high-quality composite repairs.
The group wanted the unit's individual pieces to weigh less than 30 lbs and further requested that it operate on 20 kW; have a normal wall plug, be operable in voltage and amperage units; and use shop air. The B-2 Systems Group also requested that the HAM pass qualification tests enabling the unit's operation on a fueled aircraft with no danger of creating sparks that could ignite fuel vapors.
AFRL and Karta Technologies developed this HAM according to the B-2 Systems Group's specifications. The module consists of three hot boxes, each capable of supplying hot air >990°F while operating on standard wall outlets and shop air. The units can also provide a greater volume of air when operating as a group. Users can manually operate the HAM unit or control it via standard commercial hot bonders.
The B-2 Systems Group was using the portable cooling and heating system (PCAHS) unit to perform repairs. The PCAHS unit measures 8 x 5 ft, requires its own generator, and costs roughly $2 million. However, the HAM provides heat to cure repairs for composite parts and coatings, is more compact, and is significantly less expensive than current equipment.
Employing the HAM will reduce the amount of equipment that deployed military personnel need. The unit will cost approximately $10,000-$20,000. A demonstration of the HAM occurred at an F-22 follow-on test and evaluation.
The F-22 System Program Office and Air Combat Command expressed interest in the units and requested additional information. The Air Force has transferred the technology to industry to make it commercially available in the future.