Timken has been awarded additional orders under an existing $20 million U.S. Air Force contract for hybrid bearing development. The new orders, which total approximately $7 million, focus on the quality assurance of rolling elements and new cage materials for bearings used in current and next generation gas turbine aircraft engines.
One order (approximately $4 million) calls for Timken to develop and validate new technologies for the quality assurance of silicon nitride balls with high reliability and low cost. These ceramic balls are at the heart of the hybrid bearing system being developed to meet specific high-performance characteristics under the Versatile Affordable Advanced Turbine Engine (VAATE) program. Understanding critical flaws is a major step in achieving consistent operation, which Timken will analyze through rigorous testing and computer modeling.
The other order ($3 million) is to develop and demonstrate high-strength and/or low-mass cage materials. These components, which serve to guide and retain bearing rolling elements, will demonstrate improved performance characteristics over designs currently employed in today's turbine engines. This effort is intended to have direct impact on applications in the commercial aerospace, automotive and industrial sectors.
"Timken is clearly where you turn for innovative friction management solutions to difficult challenges, such as the very high stresses generated in achieving advanced military engine system operational requirements," said J. Ron Menning, vice president - aerospace, consumer and super precision. "We're proud of the role of our people and technology in this complex program to expand engine system technology that can benefit broader military as well as commercial applications."
Under the umbrella contract, Timken has previously been awarded a total of $6 million for the initial two orders addressing the development and testing of advanced materials and special surface coatings for extended bearing life. The overall $20 million in federal funding is part of the Versatile Affordable Advanced Turbine Engine (VAATE) program phase 1, a joint initiative between the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA and the U.S. aerospace industry. One of the program's goals is to increase the affordability of new turbine-propulsion technology over current designs.
After the initial stages of materials and component development, Timken will pursue additional efforts under the general contract in modeling, testing and condition monitoring to complete the program.
Timken supplies a wide variety of rolling bearings and related components to the Department of Defense and other government agencies, primarily for applications in flight hardware.