From Aviation Week and Space Technology 2006 April


After waiting three decades for enabling technology to catch up with its design ideas, GE-Aviation is deeply embedding itself in composite materials as a next-generation answer to making engines quieter and cheaper to own and operate.

The payoff is coming in the GEnx engine, which made its first run on Mar. 19 when Serial No. 001 was started on test stand 6A at the company's Test Operation Center in Peebles, Ohio. By the time the trials concluded two days later, the team had pushed the engine to 80,500 lb. of sea-level, standard-day takeoff thrust. Its top power requirements thus far are for 75,000 lb.

The first fruition of GE's composite technology appeared in fan blades for the GE90 series for Boeing's 777 family, an engine development investment that brought years of market struggle for GE but is now paying off. It is in the GEnx (pronounced "gee-ee-en-ex"), a next-generation derivative of the GE90, that General Electric is pushing composite technology the most.

Where it can, GE is displacing aluminum alloys with composites for the same reason Boeing has used them in the 787's wings and fuselage. Composites are lighter, so they cut fuel burn; they are noncorrosive, so they reduce maintenance expenses.

Besides in its 111-in. fan blades and the engine's forward fan case, GE employs composites for the engine's variable-bleed valve ducts at the exit of the booster stage.

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Combustion Engines
Industrial engines are heavy-duty, internal combustion engines that are used to power and propel vehicles, machinery, and equipment. They burn a liquid or gaseous fuel such as gasoline, diesel, biodiesel, propane, or natural gas.
Fan Blades and Propellers
Fan blades and propellers are used to convey power from a source (such as a jet engine) for propulsion or the movement of air. Propellers are an array of fan blades that transmit power by converting rotational motion into thrust. They are sometimes referred to as props.
Composites and Composite Materials
Composites and composite materials typically consist of a matrix and a dispersed, fibrous or continuous second phase. The second phase may reinforce the material, alter electrical or magnetic properties, or enhance wear or erosion resistance.
Mechanical Engineering Services
Mechanical engineering services apply the principles of physics to the analysis, design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. They are staffed by professional mechanical engineers and trained technicians.
Composite and Fiberglass Molding Services
Composite and fiberglass molding services perform injection molding, blow molding, compression molding, rotationalmolding, thermoforming, and dip molding.

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