A bright future is seen for advanced ceramic fibers and fiber coatings for high-temperature ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). But first design engineers must have better access to the information they need to select the new materials. So concludes a panel of the Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems of the National Research Council. Classified projects have generated most data on the tough, stable CMCs. Much of the information probably can be made public now, the report says. It urges creation of a database of CMC properties. Still, technical shortcomings must be overcome before CMCs can be widely used in thermostructural applications. The panel notes that fiber coatings for non-oxide composites have demonstrated adequate performance in short-life applications, such as rocket nozzles. However, fiber-coating technologies for long-life applications, such as turbine engine components, have yet to be demonstrated in component testing. Advances have been further impeded by the high cost of coated fiber. The panel thinks costs will drop through mass production as designers employ CMCs in a larger number of applications.
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