Aerospace manufacturers face a lot of pressure to lower cost but increase performance and follow stringent safety standards. Thus they seek materials in commercial airlines that are not only robust but also reliable meeting high specialized applications in the industry. This paper will detail about advance ceramic use in aerospace discussing the growing use of advanced ceramics in manufacture of aerospace components.
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The use of advanced ceramics like alumina, aluminum nitride and silicon nitride are used to manufacture critical aerospace components especially aerospace engines. This is mainly because they have good physical advantages like ability to retain their dimensional stability through a range of high temperatures, ability to exhibit high mechanical strength, excellent chemical resistance and a stiffness-to-weight ratio. This provides manufacturers the ability to design components that offer optimal performance for their intended purposes like improving fuel efficiency, increase performance and satisfy safety standards (Ceramic industry).
They are also used in maintenance and repair overhaul (MRO) of engines especially in the design and manufacture of ceramic metal assemblies as well as in the manufacture of aerospace engine components. Brazing temperatures are as high as 100 degrees Celsius and brazing alloys are used in repair of cracks and assembling of aerospace components (Advanced Ceramics for Aero Engine Repair).
Instrumentation and Control Systems
Electro-ceramic materials like dielectric and piezoelectric are especially used in developments in manufacturing techniques in material science that have led to development of advanced ceramics serving in critical functions in aircraft instrumentation. They are used in missile guiding, satellite positioning and fire detection. Some of them include gyroscopes used for measuring aircraft acceleration and accelerometers used in measuring vibration. The Boeing 777 uses piezo ceramics within the aircraft’s fuel probe tank. Ultrasonic transducers are installed in each fuel tank and a pulsed electric field is then applied to the piezo ceramic material which responds by oscillating. A digital processor is then able to interpret time of flight measurement of sound waves to continue indicating the amount of fuel present. They are especially liked because of their ability to provide accurate readings the reason why the probes are also used in ultrasonic fuel probes in fighter crafts (Advanced Ceramics in Aerospace).
Advanced ceramics are also used in developing highly & efficient and cost-effective new technologies for space travel. Instead of the traditional chemical propulsion, a lightweight alternative is being looked into because ion engines have the ability to push spacecraft 10 times faster with same fuel consumption. This has the potential of reducing size of the vehicle but increasing travel distance. Ion technology that used quartz earlier has seen the use of alumina instead. This is because alumina has higher structural stability hence easier to fabricate and also offers good thermal shock resistance ensuring that the material can withstand extreme temperatures. Alumina is way lighter than quartz.
Aero Engine Component Repair
Brazing materials that are ideal for aero engine component repair like pre-sintered performs (PSP) can perform for very high temperature applications. The PSP are customized in a way to fit the shape of a component thus have the ability to providing a range of almost the same thickness. This eliminates the need for post-braze but able to extend the life of the engine by up-to 300 percent (Advanced Ceramics in Aerospace). An example is the ceramic core developed by MTC-Certech that has greater dimensional accuracy and able to maintain tight tolerances without any form of distortion. They are very stable at high temperatures (Ceramic industry).
Due to the aerospace industry’s demand for higher performance and lower cost, scientists and ceramic manufacturers have continued developing new materials that take advantage of electrical properties and high thermal capabilities that form advanced ceramics (The AZo Journal of Materials Online).
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