Innovation That Matters

Heat resistant material aims to revolutionise hypersonic travel

Travel & Tourism

The ceramic coating could withstand the 3000 degrees Celsius temperatures that come with hypersonic travel.

A collaboration between researchers at the University of Manchester and Central South University (CSU) in China has created a carbide ceramic coating material that could be used on hypersonic travel vessels. Hypersonic travel signifies moving at Mach five or more, which is at least five times faster than the speed of sound. Travelling at such speeds creates high temperatures of between 2000 and 3000 degrees Celsius that can affect an aircraft’s reliability.

The creation has been tested and proved to be up to 12 times more efficient than current ultra-high temperature ceramics (UHTCs) made of zirconium carbide, which are used on aero-engines and hypersonic vehicles including rockets, re-entry spacecraft and defence projectiles. The new material’s resilience is thanks to a process called reactive melt infiltration (RMI), which means it is reinforced with carbon-carbon composite known as C/C composite and is extremely strong against surface degradation. The material’s unique structural composition creates good heat resistance and improved oxidation resistance, and was manufactured at the Powder Metallurgy Institute at CSU and researched in Manchester.

The manufacturing of new materials has gone from strength to strength in recent years as a credit to advanced technologies, with impressive examples including a moth-eye inspired coating that can eliminate light glare and a water-repellent material that sheds like a snake if damaged. What common material could be replaced with a more efficient, high-tech alternative?




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