Hot stuff: Leicester engineers examine how volcanic ash affects jet engines
This is why a University of Leicester geologist is working with our MaTIC (Materials Technology Integration Centre) engineering centre on a study of how volcanic ash particles behave when heated in jet engines, combining our expertise in volcanology and materials engineering.
The blades of aircraft engines operate at temperatures above their melting point and need a constant flow of cooling air blowing through tiny holes in the blades. The air floats onto the surface of the blades and forms a protective film that stops them reaching the same temperature as the combustion process of the engine.
Volcanic ash can reach a temperature of 2,000˚C in the engine, and will melt. If it is sucked into the tiny holes in engine blades the melted ash solidifies to a layer of glass and blocks the ventilation holes, and the engine will fail because the blades then melt.
The researchers will be using Thermal Analysis and X-ray Computed Tomography to analyse the temperature at which volcanic ash solidifies and melts, and will make better advice available to the aircraft industry as to whether it is safe to fly following an explosive volcanic eruption.