A General Electric subsidiary has begun development work on a U.S. blueprint that seeks to industrialize ceramic matrix composites and has invested at least $200 million to build two CMC manufacturing facilities in Huntsville, Alabama.
GE Aviation said Friday it expects the two factories in Alabama to generate up to 20 metric tons of CMC materials per year.
The company has received $21.9 million in funds from the Air Force Research Laboratory's Title III office to build a factory that will license NGS Advanced Fibers' technology platform to mass produce silicon carbide ceramic fibers.
NGS is a joint venture of GE, Safran and Nippon Carbon.
The other facility will manufacture CMC components through the use of SiC ceramic fibers needed to produce CMC prepreg.
Jon Lyford, Huntsville site leader at GE Aviation, said the company's construction and engineering teams expect to install process equipment by October, complete commissioning work on the CMC prepreg facility by the summer of 2018 and then conclude commissioning activities on the CMC fiber factory by the spring of 2019.
GE Aviation expects to hire up to 300 employees for the Huntsville factories and employ more than 750 CMC workers by 2020.
Advanced Silicon Carbide Fiber, a GE Aviation joint venture, will offer CMC fibers and materials to GE businesses, Defense Department and other external customers.
GE Aviation has allocated at least $1.5 billion in funds over a decade on four facilities such as the CMC laboratory in Evendale, Ohio, and the Newark, Delaware-based facility that produces CMC raw materials and related components.