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Easy-to-make, heat-resistant composite.

To make brake pads for jumbo jets, nose cones for rockets, and other parts that must withstand harsh conditions, manufacturers typically rely on strong, lightweight, heat-resistant carbon composites. But scientists have found a sturdier alternative, according to a report presented last month at the American Ceramics Society meeting in Cincinnati.

Like the old composite made of carbon fibers embedded in an amorphous carbon base, the new material gains its strength from parallel carbon fibers. In the new composite, however, boron nitride serves as the base substance. The resulting material resists oxidative deterioration at 850 [degrees] C, nearly double the threshold of the carbon-carbon composite, says principal researcher James Economy of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Moreover, the new composite shows significantly improved strength and stiffness, he says.

The new material is also easier to make. "We can complete the fabrication in several days, eliminating the messy three- to six-month process for carbon-carbon composites," says Economy. "And we still get a yield of over 90 percent."
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Title Annotation:new boron nitrate composite has double oxidative deterioration threshold of carbon-carbon composite
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 15, 1993
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