NASA tests material for hypersonic travel

credits: NASA

We all want fast, right? Faster cars, faster bikes, faster ways to travel. Ever thought why? Faster means less time. Since time is a valuable commodity, we must save it as much as possible. Visionaries like Elon Musk are already working in this field. The Hyperloop and BFR are apt examples of it.
This time, it is NASA. NASA has found a way to realize the idea of super-fast travel. As we all know,  for planes flying at supersonic speeds, air friction is an important concern. High speeds cause extreme heating called aerodynamic heating. Several methods are used to counter it. Carbon nanotubes is one of them.  Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs),used currently in Hypersonic jets, can ideally withstand the temperature of 400 oC. But, NASA scientists, along with researchers at Binghamton University, have studied the properties of boron nitride nanotubes for use in aircrafts.

source: Slideshare

Boron Nitride Nanotubes

Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNTs) have very high Young’s modulus value (up to 1.3 GPa) and tensile strength (up to 33 GPa). These characteristics are comparable to those reported for CNTs (Carbon Nanotubes). BNNTs also possess piezoelectric and radiation shielding characteristics. It has extraordinary thermal conductivity, and high thermal and chemical stabilities compared to CNTs. So, you can say that it is a better version of CNT. Not only that, BNNTs can withstand temperatures upto 850 oC.
Despite all this, BNNTs are very costly. They cost about $1,000 per gram which is very impractical as only the military and a selected few would be able to afford it. But don’t worry, it is expected that in future, the price of BNNTs would reduce. Therefore,  we can expect hypersonic flight on commercial planes which would significantly reduce travel time and ultra-fast travel will become a reality. The US Air Force-funded team says that the strong, lightweight and expensive material could enable vehicles travelling at five to 10 times the speed of sound.


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