At GE Aviation, engineers believe that the industry has hit a wall when it comes to metals. But Sanjay Correa and his team at GE believe that ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), a new class of materials, will help to revolutionize the industry as we know it — from power to aviation.
The engineers also believe it will allow them to build more powerful and efficient jet engines within the next 10 years.
Recently, the company announced that it will be investing $200 million in the construction of a new CMC factory in Huntsville, Alabama, where it hopes to mass produce the new class of materials.
Dubbed the Rocket City factories — named in honor of Huntsville’s role in launching astronauts into space — the plants will supply raw materials for the first American CMC plant, which opened just last year in Asheville, North Carolina.
Correa, the leader of GE Aviation’s CMC program, feels that the new plants in Alabama are a necessary step in a long process.
“Opening the new plants is a key step in building the supply chain we need to make CMC parts in large volumes.
Although the GE scientists have been working on CMCs for around two decades, it has been difficult to produce them en masse.
The CMC’s “super ceramics” are tough yet light-weight and can operate at 1316 degrees celsius — 260 degrees higher than even the most advanced alloys. This would allow engineers to create lighter components for engines that are more fuel efficient and don’t need as much cooling air by exhaust fans.
Aside from aviation, exhaust fans have many residential, commercial, and industrial uses. For example, kitchen exhaust fans are commonly used to ventilate and purify the air, ridding it of excess moisture to prevent mold and moisture buildup. When available for purchase, exhaust fans for bathrooms come with sound ratings, ranging from barely audible (0.5) to extremely loud (4) — probably similar to the roaring sounds a jet exhaust system would make.