Nippon Carbon Company, GE and Safran to Establish Silicon Carbide Continuous Fiber JV

Nippon Carbon Company, Ltd., GE and Safran are creating a joint venture to manufacture and sell silicon carbide (SiC) continuous fiber or Nicalon®, an important material for CFM’s next-generation of high performance aircraft engine components. Closure of the joint venture is subject to regulatory approvals.

The new joint venture, NGS Advanced Fibers, will be headquartered in, Chuo-ku, Tokyo with facilities in Toyama-shi, Toymama in Japan. Nippon Carbon Company will have a 50% share in the new joint venture and GE and Safran with a 25% share each.

“Silicon carbide continuous fiber, Nicalon®, is a ceramic fiber developed, manufactured and marketed by our company, which combines lightness and strength with high thermal resistance even in air,” said Shigeo Tajima, president of Nippon Carbon Co., Ltd. “Demand for aircraft engine components is set to increase ten-fold over the next decade, and we plan to meet this growth in the market for high-tech materials by establishing the joint venture.”

“Nicalon® is important to our development of ceramic matrix composite materials (CMCs) that will differentiate our next-generation of aircraft engines,” said Sanjay Correa, vice president and general manager of CMC Programs at GE. “CMCs will bring a multitude of benefits to our customers, including reduced weight, enhanced performance and improved durability. GE is expanding the use of CMCs in its new engines under development, and this joint venture will enable us to ensure a consistent supply of this material to meet our projected demand.”

“Safran’s primary technology initiatives and investments, in line with market expectations, are to develop more environmentally-friendly aircraft engines. One of the main expected technological breakthroughs will be the use of CMC materials in hot sections of engines that will help reduce fuel consumption,” said Jean-Luc Engerand, CEO of Snecma Propulsion Solide (Safran Group). “The signature of today is an important step towards this perpective.”

The three companies anticipate their demand for CMCs to increase tenfold over the next decade. The newest engine in development for CFM International, a 50/50 joint venture between GE and Snecma (part of Safran group), is the LEAP engine for the next-generation of narrow-body aircraft, including the COMAC C919, Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX. The LEAP engine will incorporate CMC material in its engine components, and demand has soared to more than 3,300 LEAP engines on order for the three airframes it will power. GE and Safran continue to investigate CMCs for additional engine applications.

Source: Safran S.A. (Paris: SAF.PA)
Date: Feb 28, 2012