A sneak peak at the incredible technology that will soon be harnessed in Alabama’s new GE facilities
(Video Above: A glimpse at what the Ceramic Matrix Composite materials produced in Huntsville will be making)
Huntsville, Ala. — The building of two state-of-the-art aviation parts manufacturing facilities was announced in Alabama Tuesday, an investment of $200 million by one of the largest companies in the world, General Electric (GE). The facilities will employ approximately 300 Alabamians in the work of mass-producing silicon carbide materials for ultra-lightweight components of new jet engines.
That’s a mouthful, and while Alabama is quickly becoming known as one of the best places in the world to locate if you need a top-notch team of engineers, the rest of us could probably benefit from an explanation.
According to the Commerce Department, one of the Alabama plants will be the first large-scale facility in the United States to produce silicon carbide (SiC) ceramic fiber; the only other factory of its kind in the world is in Japan. The adjacent GE factory will use the SiC ceramic fiber to produce a “unidirectional tape” necessary to fabricate advanced ceramic matrix composite components, or CMCs, for jet engines and land-based gas turbines.
The lightweight CMCs, whose construction is depicted in the video above, save aircraft hundreds of pounds in weight, while also making the engines more durable and fuel efficient. Scientists at GE have worked for more than 20 years to develop CMCs for commercial use.
Once the ceramic tapes are manufactured in Alabama’s new plants they will travel to a facility in North Carolina where they are be made into CMC “shrouds” with direct high-pressure air flow through the next-generation engines.
The Alabama Department of Commerce says the recruitment of GE to the Yellowhammer State for this project began 18 months ago under code name “Project Badge.”
“With Alabama’s aviation and aerospace sector adding new capabilities, it has been one of our goals to more fully penetrate all levels of the industry supply chain,” said secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce Greg Canfield. “GE Aviation’s plan to mass produce the raw material for ceramic jet engine components in Huntsville positions Alabama for a more significant role in that supply chain at a time when the Southeastern aerospace corridor is growing rapidly.”
Alabama officials say the state’s existing workforce, low infrastructure costs, and ability to partner with universities made the Limestone County location ideal.
“GE is an innovation company. Huntsville is an innovation city,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “This announcement by GE is the latest chapter in that history of innovation. The products that will be manufactured here represent the future of aerospace. We are proud that Huntsville will help GE change the way we travel through the skies.”
A sneak peak at the amazing technology that will soon be harnessed in Alabama’s new GE facilities https://t.co/lbXu6FWI6i
— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizTBeShears) October 28, 2015