October 24, 2012

Ultra-High Temperature Ceramics could enable hypersonic planes

HYPERSONIC aircraft that could fly from Sydney to Madrid in less than two hours could be closer to reality following Australian scientific work with clay.

Ultra-High Temperature Ceramics are promising materials for hypersonic aircraft parts because they offer good thermomechanical properties under extreme conditions and they do it without compromising the integrity of the overall structure, Dr Tallon says.

The UHTCs can also be formed into complex shapes.

Using chemistry to modify a standard method of casting ceramics in a mould, the researchers have developed an alternative to the traditional technique of forming these ceramics as blocks at high temperatures and pressures.

The new method, a form of slip casting, allows them to generate ultra-high-temperature ceramic components at lower temperatures and pressures, which save time and money because they do not require extensive machining.

"The ceramic pieces we have made are stronger and will survive to higher temperatures than those used on the Space Shuttle," Dr Tallon says.

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