GE Aviation announced recently it is creating adjacent factories in Huntsville, Ala., to mass-produce silicon carbide materials used to manufacture ceramic matrix composite components (CMCs) for jet engines and land-based gas turbines.
The industrial giant’s aviation division said it will invest more than $200 million to construct two factories on 100 acres in Huntsville. When the factories are operational later this decade, they are expected to employ up to 300 people.
“Establishing the new GE factories in Alabama is a very significant step in developing the supply chain we need in order to produce CMC components in large volume,” said Sanjay Correa, vice president of CMC program at GE Aviation.
According to GE, one plant will produce silicon carbide (SiC) ceramic fiber, the first such operation in the United States. Today, the only large-scale SiC ceramic fiber factory in the world is operated by NGS Advanced Fibers in Japan, which is a joint company of Nippon Carbon, GE and Safran of France. The adjacent GE factory in Alabama will use the SiC ceramic fiber to produce the unidirectional CMC tape necessary to fabricate CMC components.
Construction of the two plants will begin in mid-2016, with full completion by the first half of 2018. Production begins in 2018. GE has already begun hiring the technical team that will transfer to the Huntsville operation. GE expects to begin hiring the hourly workforce in late 2016.
Mississippi and a joint venture between the Vicintin family of Brazil and CleanTech LLC recently opened a $200 million a 170,000-square-foot silicon metal manufacturing plant in Tishomingo County. That plant, the first such silicon metal facility in the U.S. in 40 years, will help meet a growing demand for silicon metal, which is used in thousands of products ranging from computer chips to automotive manufacturing to chemicals used in industrial, commercial and consumer applications, officials said.