About Advanced Ceramics

About Advanced Ceramics

Advanced ceramics are a key enabling technology for many applications in the aerospace, defense, power generation, and industrial processing industries that have a significant national impact with economic and environmental contributions. Advanced ceramics expand on the unique thermal, wear, and corrosion resistant capabilities of traditional ceramics by increasing toughness. 

U.S. industry continues to a have a need for materials that are lightweight, strong, and capable of performing in extreme environments that often include high temperatures or high corrosion. Although many ceramics generally perform well at considerably higher temperatures than conventional metal alloys, they are commonly brittle and, as a result, can undergo catastrophic failure without warning in service. Advanced types of ceramics are being developed to overcome this limitation while retaining their other, value added properties. This new class of ceramic materials will provide a unique combination of high-temperature stability, corrosion resistance, and toughness necessary for a wide range of applications where improvements in energy efficiency, environmental protection, ballistic protection, lifetime operating cost, and performance are desired.

While increasingly being used in military applications, advanced ceramic materials still need to develop to the point at which industry will assume the risk of commercialization. There are many challenges for getting these materials into broader military and commercial use: long-term stability of the advanced ceramics in the applications' environments, component cost, consistent material properties/reproducibility, and collection of long-term data and material properties. Progress is however being made resulting in a growing number of successful applications where they are viewed as an enabling technology.

According to recent market analysis by the Freedonia Group, the demand for advanced ceramics in the U.S. is forecast to increase to $13.5 billion by 2017. While, in many product segments the advanced ceramics industry is mature and well established, it continues to rely on technology advances such as fiber reinforced ceramic composites and preceramic polymers for continued growth.

Advanced ceramics can be used in personnel protection, E/O packaging, aeropropulsion, power generation, and industrial processing equipment to name a few. Examples of specific uses for advanced ceramics include: gas turbine airfoils, rotors, combustors, and exhaust; E/O laser positioning mirrors and packaging; armor; furnace radiant heaters and fans; hot gas filtration; fuel cell membranes; metal casting immersion heaters, tank liners and sensor sheaths; glass handling rolls; diesel engine filters and fuel injector parts; and textile and wire thread guides. Benefits reported from these applications include improvements in productivity, operating cost, performance, and quality.

A recent success story for advanced ceramics is the announcement by industry leaders that significant investments are being made to transition ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) into commercial gas turbine engines.  For example, General Electric is producing CMC components for its new LEAP gas turbine engine, currently with orders for over 6,000 units.  The aircraft industry is anticipated to save $1 million per engine through the use of CMCs.  Rolls Royce is also planning to produce advanced ceramic components for gas turbine engines.  Both companies consider CMCs to be critical to meeting demand for greater fuel efficiency in aviation propulsion.




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