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September 22, 1997

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1726)

Keith Henry
Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA
(Phone: 757/864-6120)

HQ RELEASE: 97-210

PANEL SELECTS NASA-DEVELOPED, HIGH-PERFORMANCE AIRCRAFT MATERIAL FOR AWARD

A panel studying new technologies has chosen a NASA-developed, high-performance composite material as one of the 100 most technologically significant new products and processes of 1997.

Scientists at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, developed the material, a high-temperature resin called PETI-5. The composite was recently selected for use in a U.S. supersonic civil airliner expected to be built early in the next century.

A 75-member panel that studied new technologies on behalf of Research and Development magazine honored the material's development as part of the magazine's annual R&D 100 Awards world-wide competition. PETI-5 is short for PhenylEthynyl Terminated Imide and is the fifth formulation developed. An awards banquet and exhibits program will be held Sept. 25 at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, after which winning entries will be on public display.

"The PETI technology has already been transferred to industry with licensing agreements to four different companies. This demonstrates the significant advance in technology which has been accomplished," said Greg Manuel, technology transfer agent at Langley. The four companies are Culver City Composites, Culver City, CA; Cytec Engineered Materials, Havre de Grace, MD; Fiberite, Greenville, TX; and Imitec, Schenectady, NY. The agreements position each of the companies to support advanced composites for a future supersonic civil airliner.

Because of the material characteristics of PETI-5, it is the only material that meets the needs for future high-speed civil transports. This is the only market that licensees are looking at presently. Other markets may become viable as the quantity of material produced increases and the cost of the material decreases.

NASA and industry have teamed to develop the technology necessary to build an economically viable supersonic civil transport plane that will fly at 2.4 times the speed of sound, and carry approximately 300 passengers at a ticket price only 20 percent over comparable subsonic flights. This plane would halve the flight times from California to Japan.

Since currently available metals are either too heavy or cannot withstand the high temperatures created when flying this fast, composite materials made from graphite fibers and PETI-5 are necessary to both withstand the high temperatures and to make the plane strong enough and light enough to be economically viable.

The market potential of an adhesive or composite matrix resin for a fleet of supersonic civil transports could be several billions of dollars. There is also a significant market for non-aerospace applications which require the exceptional combination of properties provided by PETI-5, such as high performance automobile engine applications.

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