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GE's ceramic composite helps place it on list of most innovative companies

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
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— General Electric has been named to the MIT Technology Review's 50 Disruptive Companies list again this year, the magazine’s pick of the “most innovative companies in the world, spanning energy and materials, Internet and digital media, computing and communications, biomedicine, and transportation.”

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View a video of the strength of GE's ceramic matrix composites.

TR magazine recognized GE for innovations in the energy and materials field.

“Each company on this list has done something over the past year that will strengthen its hold on a market, challenge the leaders of a market, or create a new market,” said Brian Bergstein, TR’s deputy editor.

The list includes companies such as Apple, Google and Samsung, as well as upstarts like SpaceX, Square, and Nest.

GE scientists and engineers have a long record of developing revolutionary materials like ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), which GE introduced in 2011. Parts made from CMCs help GE engineers build more fuel efficient jet engines and gas turbines because they can operate at temperatures as high as 2,400 degrees fahrenheit.

GE engineers also designed the machines for manufacturing CMC parts. The machines cover ceramic fibers with a special durable coating, form the fibers into tapes, cut the tapes into panels of desired shapes, and fuse the panels in a furnace.

GE workers use CMCs to make ceramic turbine shrouds, combustor liners, turbine blades and other parts for gas turbines and jet engines.

“The pace of technological change is brutal,” observed TR’s Bergstein. “Even Apple, which we have selected for this package four years in a row, has to scramble.” Bergstein said that “only 15 of these 50 companies were also here last year.” GE was one of them.

Last year, TR recognized GE’s “aeroderivative” gas turbines as a key innovation for building flexible and efficient natural gas power plants. The turbines use modified jet engines to generate electricity. They can crank up from cold iron to full power in as little as 10 minutes.

TR, among the longest-running technology magazines, is published by an independent media company owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 
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