Hypersonic travel closer thanks to China-UK discovery

Rupert Reid Sino.uk Published: 2017-07-15 14:41:48
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A discovery by researchers at the University of Manchester, and their colleagues at Central South University in China, has the potential to change how we fly.

Hypersonic travel would involve flying at five times the speed of sound.[File photo: Baidu.com]

Hypersonic travel would involve flying at five times the speed of sound.[File photo: Baidu.com]

Hypersonic travel would involve flying at five times the speed of sound. Whilst theoretically possible, problems arise because of the speed of the aircraft moving through the air.

Even in conventional flight, the movement of an aircraft through the air will significantly warm the air around it.

In hypersonic flight, that phenomenon would cause temperatures hitting the aircraft to be as high as 3,000 degrees Celsius.

At those temperatures, even the most advanced of materials would struggle.

However, the researchers at the University of Manchester, together with their colleagues at Central South University in China have discovered a carbide coating that is around 12 times more successful at doing this than current technology. 

According to the University of Manchester, Professor Ping Xiao, Professor of Materials Science, explained:

“Current candidate UHTCs for use in extreme environments are limited and it is worthwhile exploring the potential of new single-phase ceramics in terms of reduced evaporation and better oxidation resistance. In addition, it has been shown that introducing such ceramics into carbon fibre- reinforced carbon matrix composites may be an effective way of improving thermal-shock resistance.”


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