Material degradation that occurs when a surface is exposed to high intensity heat sources, such as a fuel fire is of critical importance to the aviation industry. Whether the vehicle has a metallic or a composite skin the degradation and failure of the material due to intense thermal loads can be rapid.
To understand the effects of rapid heating by direct flame impingement on material degradation, the Engineering & Scientific Innovations team uses a modified JP-8 flame generator to produce a high intensity heating source. The ESI flame generator can produce steady state flame temperatures of up to 1,000 °C.
An untested sample material is presented in Figure A, while B & C indicate signs of surface damage after various exposures to flame impingement.
In addition to the obvious surface damage, significant delamination can also occur in composite material.