GE Moving Ahead on Ceramic Engine Components
GE Aviation is pushing the engine design envelope with flight testing of ceramic composite components in the hot section of a GE Rolls-Royce F136 Joint Strike Fighter development engine. The components being tested are third-stage, low-pressure turbine vanes made of ceramic matrix composites (CMC). According to GE Aviation, development of CMC is part of the company’s eCore program, which will lead to CMC being key features of next-generation narrow-body and regional airline and business jet engines. The CMC components are made of silicon ceramic fibers and ceramic resin, as well as proprietary coatings. The advantages of CMC components are lower weight, higher durability and heat-resistance, which reduces cooling air requirements and extends maintenance intervals. “Simply put, removing cooling air allows a jet engine to run at higher thrust and/or more efficiently,” GE explained. The company has been working on CMC for more than 15 years, and the components are manufactured at GE’s Newark, Del. facility. A video of a ballistic impact test of GE's CMC is available on the GE Global Research blog.