The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the pressing need for modernisation and the growing importance of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and unmanned systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Advanced Materials in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Ceramic matrix composites for turbines.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 262,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the aerospace and defence industry, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Ceramic matrix composites for turbines is a key innovation area in advanced materials 

Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) are used in the construction of aircraft engines. CMCs are capable of withstanding high-temperatures, and hence they are useful in the construction of aircraft engine turbines, among other components.  

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10 companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of ceramic matrix composites for turbines. 

Key players in ceramic matrix composites for turbines – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry  

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Amongst aerospace and defence companies, General Electric is one of the leading patent filers in ceramic matrix composites for turbines. The company is a leading manufacturer of aircraft engines. It produces the GE9X which is installed on Boeing’s widebody 777X, and is one of the most powerful jet engines in the world. The lining of the GE9X’s combustor and turbine shroud is made of ceramic matrix composites, which can withstand much higher temperatures than most metals, allowing for the engine to safely deliver massive thrust. 

Other key patent filers include industry leading engine manufacturers such as Raytheon Technologies , Rolls-Royce, and Safran

In terms of application diversity, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries leads the pack. Raytheon Technologies and IHI come in at second and third place, respectively. Regarding geographic reach, IHI leads the way, followed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Safran

Composite materials are under consideration as an option to reinforce the missile bodies and airframes which undergo high degrees of aerodynamic stress and heating. These materials can endure the stresses of manoeuvring at very high, even hypersonic, speeds. Composites comprised of filaments of materials, such as glass, boron, graphite, Kevlar, or SiC, set in resin may prove an option for high-strength reinforcing materials, improving the longevity of turbines. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.