How Rusting of an Airplane Engine Takes Place ?

Corrosion and oxidation of metals into rust can result in the complete destruction of aircraft parts. Rust and corrosion inside of an aircraft’s engine can means disaster for the longevity and life of an aircraft. A key perpetrator for the corrosion of engines is the accumulation of water. Water is an essential reactant in the chemical reaction for the oxidation of metals into rust. It was falsely believed that water enters the engine, and thus furthering the corrosion of an engine, as a result of using the engine preheaters. Corrosion and rusting are created through a series of chemical reactions that aircraft engines are especially prone to.

The fuel is necessary for aircraft to achieve flight consists of repeating chains of carbon and hydrogen. Combustion of these chains breaks the bonds between carbon and hydrogen, releasing the energy needed to propel the aircraft. However, byproducts of this reaction include carbon dioxide and water vapor. The presence of water and carbon dioxide leads to the oxidation of metals such as iron into rust. Water vapor created in the combustion of fuel is trapped inside of the crankcase without any exit to escape, thus filling the area that is most sensitive to damage. As temperature of the engine decreases, the water vapor condenses into liquid, coating the engine, oxidizing any metals present, and causing irreparable engine damage. It is estimated that at 98% humidity in a two cubic feet volume case, with a temperature change from 150? to 35?, there will be roughly one-quarter cup of water formed. Corrosion will happen regardless of whether or not a preheater is used. Atmospheric water is unavoidable, so in order to maintain engine health we need to take the appropriate measures.

The oil spray seems to be the only solution for this problem. Oil, which is hydrophobic by nature, repels water, thus protecting metals from corrosion. However, as an industry standard, it is accepted that oil has a very limited window for optimum effectiveness as an anti-corrosive agent. If the lubrication, as needed is not reapplied frequently, corrosion is guaranteed. One of the best and most suggested method for preventing engine damage is to recoat the engine after every flight. This can be adjusted according to the needs of the aviator. Aircrafts that fly in dry environments have less contact with water and thus would be less impacted by oxidation. Depending on the needs of the aircraft in question, different oils with varying properties like durability and effectiveness are recommended. 


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