For Release: November 21, 2001
Katherine K. Martin
Media Relations Office
Lori J. Rachul
Media Relations Office
Materials researchers at NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, have recently completed work on a new disk alloy that will advance the state of the art for commercial and military airplane turbine engines.
The new disk alloy, a nickel-base powder metallurgy superalloy, can withstand temperatures in excess of 1300 degrees F, a 150 degree increase over disks currently in operation. "This achievement took about six years, a monumental accomplishment since most similar leaps in technology usually take decades to come to fruition," said Dr. Hugh Gray, chief, Materials Division at Glenn.
With this recent increase in operability at high temperatures, engines can function at higher pressure ratios than current engines, which translates into increased fuel efficiency and lower fuel burn. This in turn results in reduced aircraft emissions. Alternatively, engine manufacturers can use the new material without increasing pressure ratios, which would result in increased time between required maintenance, since the disk is estimated to be able to operate thirty times longer than current disks.
"By increasing the upper temperature limit for the next generation of disk materials, the aviation industry will see significant environmental as well as cost benefits," said Robert Draper, Materials Manager for NASA's Ultra Efficient Engine Technology Program. "Future aircraft fleets will burn less fuel and be less costly to maintain, thereby reducing direct operating costs," added Draper.
The new disk alloy withstood long exposures at high temperatures as well as numerous mechanical tests such as tensile, fatigue, creep and crack growth tests. Extensive microscopic characterization was also used to ensure the alloy's characteristics. Over a million hours of testing resulted in this alloy having a balanced set of material properties that far exceeds that of current production material.
Glenn worked closely in an Integrated Technology Development team with representatives from General Electric Aircraft Engines, Cincinnati and Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, Conn. in achieving this latest milestone.
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