The Porsche 911 GT2 has them and so do the Ferrari 488 GTB and the Lamborghini Aventador: lightweight brake discs made of ceramic matrix compounds. These discs don’t rust, don’t abrade and don’t smolder even when the driver slams on the brakes at 300 kilometers an hour.
What has proved itself in automotive manufacturing is now set to become an asset in aviation. “Ceramic matrix compounds open the door to significant weight reductions. Their lightweight properties alone make them extremely attractive for engine construction,” says Dr. Bertram Kopperger, head of compound materials at MTU Aero Engines. “Another benefit is that they are highly temperature-resistant. This means we can develop new, powerful and efficient engines with material temperatures of up to 1,400 degrees Celsius.” Ceramic matrix compounds, or CMCs for short, require less cooling than metals. This means air that would previously have been compressed and fed through cooling channels is now available to aid propulsion, which in turn makes the engine more efficient. Kopperger sees these new materials as an aid to achieving the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 targets, which MTU maps out in its Claire initiative. Claire stands for Clean Air Engine. Through Claire, MTU is striving to reduce fuel consumption by 40 percent by the year 2050, compared with today’s V2500 engine.