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Ceramics in Aerospace

Ceramics in Aerospace

When you think about something that goes up into the air, you are thinking about aerospace. Technically aerospace is the manufacture of commercial or military aircraft, missiles and spacecraft. This is an area where ceramics are being used more and more as the engineers understand more about how to use them.

On an airplane you will not be able to see most of how ceramics are used because they are used for very specific situations. For instance, many windshields on planes have a ceramic coating. This coating is transparent and its purpose is to keep fog and ice off the windshield in flight.

Ceramics in Aerospace: The Space Shuttle: Ceramic tiles and fibers are also used inside the plane in rocket exhaust cones because they are able to give thermal protection when the rockets are fired. The space shuttle has used ceramics for many years because of their durability and their light weight. They can be used to as heat shields also within the space shuttle or aircraft.

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A special non-oxide ceramic is used now for jet engine igniters or bearings and bushings because they are harder, very tough and they withstand a lot of wear. This insures that the mechanisms within the planes are reliable.

Another place where ceramics are being used is in space travel experiments. As an example, in Germany a company is working on ion propulsion which is a light weight way of doing this instead of the traditional chemical propulsion. This also will increase the speed of space craft but use the same amount of fuel.

In the Boeing 777 piezoelectric ceramic material is being used to give the pilots a better readout on the amount of fuel they have at any moment.

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Ceramics in Aerospace with the Military: There are many advances in the aerospace industry because the military and commercial airlines are always looking for cheaper but reliable materials that will assist in bringing the cost of building aircraft down. There are new materials that are called Alumina, Silicon Nitride and Aluminum Nitride that are inorganic and are non-metallic so they will create a stronger material. These materials are able to be used in control panels, engine monitoring and control systems because they are reliable and offer more precision than some other types of materials.

Basically, these components have specific ways of behaving that set them apart from other materials. They are resistant to chemicals and they have a "stiffness to weight ratio" that tells the manufacturers that this material is safe and up to safety standards.

Another area where these materials are used is in the repair and construction of various gas turbine engines. There are braze allows that are used because they can withstand high heat and it allows them to work on these for a longer period of time. Some of these materials like Alumina are able to be fabricated easier than other materials.

Because manufacturers and developers are working on the uses of ceramics in a lot of areas that were not thought of before, it allows them to work across a broad spectrum of fields beyond aerospace including automotive and medical areas.

Many manufacturers specialize in specific products because there are so many that can be made. As an example, a company called Thermal Ceramics works exclusively with a variety of high temperature insulation systems for aerospace. The point to this is that manufacturers can create just about anything for this area because there is so much need for products.

Aerospace will continue to need products and as more types of planes and other devices for war and commercial use are created, there will be a demand for more ways to use ceramics to create more efficiency and stronger products.

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