Synthetic graphite is widely used in the aerospace industry, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see why graphite’s physical properties fit the needs of the aerospace industry. Well, maybe you do, but we will simplify things a bit here. Synthetic graphite’s heat resistance helps space vehicles sustain the high temperature or re-entry through the atmosphere. It’s helping replace fossil fuels as the main power source for some aerospace fuel systems. And there’s a lot more to the story of synthetic graphite’s expanding role in sending rockets, satellites, and people to space. What follows is a rundown of some of the key applications of synthetic graphite in the aerospace industry.
Thermal Management Systems
Synthetic graphite is known for its excellent thermal conductivity. In aerospace applications, it is used in the construction of heat sinks and thermal management systems. These components help dissipate heat generated by electronic equipment and propulsion systems, ensuring that critical aerospace systems operate within safe temperature limits.
Electrodes for EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining)
Electrical discharge machining is a precision machining process used in aerospace manufacturing. Synthetic graphite electrodes are used in EDM machines to create complex shapes and features in aerospace components made of hard materials such as titanium and nickel alloys.
Aviation Brake Systems
Synthetic graphite composites are employed in aircraft brake systems due to their high thermal conductivity, low wear rates, and high strength. These materials can withstand the extreme temperatures and forces generated during aircraft landings and provide reliable braking performance.
Aircraft Structural Components
In some cases, synthetic graphite composites are used in the construction of lightweight structural components in aircraft, particularly in applications where high strength-to-weight ratios are critical.
Synthetic graphite is used as a component in aerospace fuel cell systems, which are being explored as a potential alternative to traditional combustion engines that rely on fossil fuels. Fuel cells generate electricity through electrochemical reactions and require materials like synthetic graphite for their electrodes and bipolar plates.
In space applications, where extreme temperatures and vacuum conditions are encountered, synthetic graphite is used in various components, including satellite thermal shields, rocket nozzle throats, and payload structures.
Synthetic graphite is used in ion thrusters, a type of propulsion system used in spacecraft for long-duration missions. These thrusters rely on the acceleration of ions (usually xenon) to generate thrust and require synthetic graphite grids or similar components.
Synthetic graphite is used in electrical contacts and brushes in aerospace systems where precise electrical conductivity and wear resistance are important, such as in control systems and avionics.
Reinforcements in Composites
Synthetic graphite fibers are sometimes used as reinforcements in composite materials for aerospace applications. These composites can be used in aircraft components to reduce weight while maintaining strength and durability.
In space missions, synthetic graphite composites may be used for radiation shielding to protect astronauts and sensitive equipment from cosmic radiation.
Synthetic graphite’s use in the aerospace industry enables many advanced technologies for aircraft and spacecraft. Its exceptional properties, including high thermal conductivity, lightweight nature, heat resistance, and mechanical strength, make it a valuable material for a range of critical aerospace applications. While we may not build rockets at Semco, we do have the advanced machining capabilities and graphite expertise to machine components for any industry, including the aerospace industry.