The aviation industry is always looking for ways to increase efficiency, which helps reduce our carbon footprint, and one of the main ways to do this is to invest in new technology which can save fuel. Of course, one of the most common ways to save fuel is to try and make all of those heavy parts of an aircraft, like their engines, lighter.
Good news! That is exactly what is being done at the moment with GE Avaition and Snecma teaming up to develop engine components made from ‘ceramic matrix composites’ or ‘ceramic composite materials’. These ceramic-based materials are far lighter than the metallic alloys they replace and would account for a not insignificant 15% saving in fuel use. These engine parts are made through 3D printing, which in itself is a pretty innovative new technology, and will bring the added bonus of being more heat resistant that metal. This means no need for air cooling which, again, saves on energy.
If these types of engine become part of the mainstream technology (and the technicians at GE and Snecma are sure they will), then they will go a long way to helping the industry achieve its climate change goals. For now, it’s a matter of ‘watch this space’, but we are pretty excited about what technology like this could mean for aviation efficiency in the long term.