Determination of heat capacity of carbon composites with application to carbon/phenolic ablators up to high temperatures

Francisco Torres-Herrador, Alessandro Turchi, Kevin M. Van Geem, Julien Blondeau, Thierry E. Magin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Simulations of atmospheric entry of spacecraft and satellites require accurate knowledge of thermo-physical properties such as heat capacity in a wide temperature range. However, the characterization of this quantity is not straightforward for carbon composites at high temperatures, due to pyrolysis reactions that occur in the material. We develop a methodology for determining the heat capacity and required heat of pyrolysis for carbon composites in these conditions. The methodology consists of three steps: organic elemental analysis to determine composition, differential scanning calorimetry experiments on the different components to determine apparent heat capacity, and computations to separate the apparent heat capacity into heat capacity and heat of pyrolysis. This methodology is applied to the Zuram® carbon/phenolic ablator from room temperature up to 1100 K. The results obtained were compared to separate analyzes of the different components of the material, assuming that heat capacity is an additive property. It was found that compressing the samples into disks provides improved resolution and repeatability for low density materials. This provided a determination of the heat capacity of the decomposing composite with a relative standard deviation
Original languageEnglish
Article number106375
Number of pages10
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • carbon/phenolic composite
  • heat capacity
  • pyrolysis
  • ablator


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