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Advanced High-temperature Resistant Carbide Coating for Hypersonic Travel

Published on 2017-07-11. Author : SpecialChem

Researchers at The University of Manchester in collaboration with Central South University (CSU), China, have created a new kind of ceramic coating that could revolutionize hypersonic travel for air, space and defense purposes.

Revolutionizing Hypersonic Travel

The researchers have designed and fabricated a new carbide coating that is vastly superior in resisting temperatures up to 3,000 °C, when compared to existing ultra-high temperature ceramics (UHTCs).

Hypersonic Travel
Advanced High-temperature Resistant Carbide Coating for Hypersonic Travel

Hypersonic travel means moving at Mach five or above, which is at least five times faster than the speed of sound. When moving at such velocity the heat generated by air and gas in the atmosphere is extremely hot and can have a serious impact on an aircraft or projectile’s structural integrity.

The structural problems are primarily caused by processes called oxidation and ablation. To combat the problem materials called ultra-high temperature ceramics (UHTCs) are needed in aero-engines and hypersonic vehicles. But, at present, even conventional UHTCs can’t satisfy the associated ablation requirements of travelling at such extreme speeds and temperatures.

Professor Philip Withers, Regius Professor from The University of Manchester, says:

Future hypersonic aerospace vehicles offer the potential of a step jump in transit speeds. A hypersonic plane could fly from London to New York in just two hours and would revolutionize both commercial and commuter travel.

But at present one of the biggest challenges is how to protect critical components such as leading edges, combustors and nose tips so that they survive the severe oxidation and extreme scouring of heat fluxes at such temperatures cause to excess during flight.”

New Kind of Ceramic Coating

  • The new carbide coating is proving to be 12 times better than the conventional UHTC, Zirconium carbide (ZrC) 
  • The improved performance of the coating is due to its unique structural make-up and features.
  • It provides extremely good heat resistance and massively improved oxidation resistance
  • The coating is made using a process called reactive melt infiltration (RMI), which dramatically reduces the time needed to make such materials, and has been in reinforced with carbon–carbon composite (C/C composite)
  • The process makes it strong and extremely resistant to the usual surface degradation

Professor Ping Xiao, Professor of Materials Science, who led the study in University of Manchester explains:

Current candidate UHTCs for use in extreme environments are limited and it is worthwhile exploring the potential of new single-phase ceramics in terms of reduced evaporation and better oxidation resistance. In addition, it has been shown that introducing such ceramics into carbon fiber- reinforced carbon matrix composites may be an effective way of improving thermal-shock resistance ."

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Source: University of Manchester
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