Ice in Engines

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Ice build-up is a major hazard on airplane wings and control surfaces, but ice can accrete on internal engine components, too. When this happens, the turbofan jet engine can lose power. Such incidents have been observed in high-altitude flight even when pilots observed little to no inclement weather. Researchers think this ice accretion may occur when the plane flies through a cloud of tiny ice crystals. These ice crystals get ingested into the engine, where they hit the warmer internal surfaces and melt. Over the course of the flight, the engine components cool off due to this influx of ice and water. Eventually, ice begins to form and grow inside the engine, ultimately resulting in power loss. Researchers have recreated such ice cloud conditions in a facility at NASA Glenn Research Center and tested a full-scale jet engine for ice accretion. They aim to gather the data necessary to improve commercial engine capabilities under ice ingestion. (Video credit: NASA Glenn Research Center)

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