GE Aviation Expands R&D On Silicon Carbide In Pompano Beach


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GE Aviation Expands R&D On Silicon Carbide In Pompano Beach

By Steve Hall

May 5, 2012 - GE Aviation announced that it has expanded into a new facility in Pompano Beach, which includes a 30% increase in square footage and an R & D lab capable of advanced development of silicon carbide (SiC)-based power conversion products for air, land and sea-based platforms.  

Silicon carbide (SiC), also known as carborundum, is a compound of silicon and carbon with chemical formula SiC. It occurs in nature as the extremely rare mineral moissanite. Silicon carbide powder has been mass-produced since 1893 for use as an abrasive. Grains of silicon carbide can be bonded together by sintering to form very hard ceramics which are widely used in applications requiring high endurance, such as car brakes, car clutches and ceramic plates in bulletproof vests.  

Electronic applications of silicon carbide as light emitting diodes (LEDs) and detectors in early radios were first demonstrated around 1907, and today SiC is widely used in high-temperature high-voltage semiconductor electronics. Large single crystals of silicon carbide can be grown by the Lely method; they can be cut into gems known as synthetic moissanite. Silicon carbide with high surface area can be produced from SiO2 contained in plant material. 

?This new facility enables us to continue work on GE-developed SiC technology, with the potential of reducing the weight on an aircraft by more than 400 lbs.," said Vic Bonneau, president of Electrical Power for GE Aviation Systems. ?GE is committed to Florida and is investing approximately $20 million in program work and R&D related to our Pompano Beach facility over the next five years.?  

The 30,000 square foot facility is located at 2705 Gateway Drive in Pompano Beach. A new lab in the facility will provide increased capacity for developing, testing and manufacturing advanced electrical power conversion products used on civil and military platforms.  

?This is a significant event for GE and for Pompano Beach,? continued Bonneau. ?Our workers here are helping to bring innovation from the research lab to the manufacturing floor, and that helps keep U.S. manufacturing competitive.?  Space and weight are premiums on aircraft. Airlines are constantly trying to balance the need to create more passenger and storage space, while also meeting increased demand for electrical power on the plane.

GE's SiC power devices will address this need on both fronts. Bonneau said ?An important part of our strategy is to aggressively invest in the kinds of technologies that will solve large problems for our customers 10 year from now.?  

GE Aviation in Pompano Beach, FL was established in 1965 and is one of the leading designers and manufacturers of special application electronic power subsystems for military and other "high-end" applications.  GE has 40 employees at the Pompano Beach facility who design and manufacture high-end military grade power supplies, including custom and standard power conversion and control products. GE currently has approximately 4,300 employees in Florida.  
GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE, is a world-leading provider of jet engines, components and integrated systems for commercial and military aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings.

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