GE Aerospace and Clemson University have received $10 million in funding from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to continue to develop next-generation materials that can withstand intense temperatures while flying at high speed.
The two organizations made the announcement on June 20 at the Paris Air Show.
Tony Mathis, president and chief executive of GE Edison Works, made the announcement June 20 alongside officials from Clemson University, according to a joint news release from the university and GE Aerospace.
The Air Force Research Laboratory authorized Congressional-appropriated funding for the project, the news release stated.
A consortium, including GE Aerospace, Clemson University and Missouri University of Science and Technology, is working to develop ceramic-matrix composite materials that would be lighter and better able to withstand extreme temperatures than metal alloys currently in use, yet still strong enough to maneuver during high-speed flight, the release stated.
“Today’s announcement represents a major milestone in the development of next-generation materials that will push the boundaries of what is possible in flight,” Mathis said in the announcement, released on June 20. “The research we are conducting will grow the U.S. innovation ecosystem, particularly in the area of advanced materials.”
In addition to the security benefits, the new materials are expected to improve engine efficiency, reduce environmental impact, enhance structural safety of the fuselage and revolutionize the time required to travel by air from one location to another, according to the release. The materials could have both military and commercial applications, researchers said.
Clemson University President James P. Clements said the research builds on the university's work in advanced materials research.
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“We are proud to support GE on this exciting project with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory,” Clements said in the release. “This collaboration will drive innovation in advanced materials and help maintain U.S. competitiveness necessary for the workforce of the future.”
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) voiced support for the project, with Graham saying in investment in research and development is key to maintaining the nation’s competitive edge.
“I appreciate Air Force Research Lab and the consortium collaborating on this important project,” Graham said in the release. “Clemson’s continued prioritization of advanced materials research ensures that our state and nation stay at the forefront of technological capabilities in ceramic-matrix composites.”
Clyburn said the research will provide new opportunities for students to work on the cutting edge of advanced materials.
“The investments we make today in education and workforce development are critical to building a prosperous future for South Carolina,” he said in the release. “Our universities, including Clemson, are key to this effort and to meeting the critical research needs for a strong national defense while also preparing our workforce for the opportunities of the 21st century.”