A majority of aircraft are designed with gas turbine engines that are installed under the tail or the wings. Because the various parts used to make up an engine are exposed to a wide range of stressors, the materials used in them must be able to withstand fluctuations involving high pressures and temperatures. Gas turbine engines are generally made up of a turbine, fan, compressor, combustor, and exhaust nozzle. The exhaust nozzle in particular receives little to no attention despite being an important part of the engine’s system.
Shaped like a tube through which outgoing hot gasses can flow, the main role of the exhaust nozzle is to produce the thrust necessary to help the aircraft maintain speed. It also functions to reduce the noise that the engine exhaust generates. More than that, as a result of the high pressures that exhaust nozzles are subjected to, they must be made from materials that provide ample corrosion resistance and overall longevity. In this blog, we will outline which materials are used to make an aircraft exhaust nozzle.
Serving as one of the most widely used materials for exhaust nozzles, inconel is a nickel-chromium alloy that is classified as a superalloy, and it is incredibly resistant to extreme weather conditions and temperatures. In fact, inconel is frequently used in the construction of rocket ships because of its resistance to corrosion and oxidation. Moreover, it is also found in many sea vessels due to its ability to tolerate prolonged exposure to saltwater.
Over time, the demand for titanium has risen because of its use by companies such as Boeing and Airbus to manufacture their newer planes. Titanium has a tensile strength to density ratio, meaning that it is a corrosion-resistant material that can handle high temperatures. For this reason, exhaust nozzles are usually made from titanium. That being said, today, most new aircraft and sea vessels use titanium.
Stainless Steel Alloys
In general, aircraft exhaust nozzles utilize steel that has at least 10% chromium. Keep in mind that not all stainless steel is the same as it is created in various ways to fulfill different functions. As such, stainless steel is often classified based on its compositions. For example, some varieties may have more chromium or nickel than others, those of which belong to one of three types: ferritic, martensitic, and austenitic stainless steel. The latter are made of chromium, nickel, and carbon which makes them highly resistant to temperature extremes. It is worth noting that austenitic stainless steel contains more nickel and chromium, so it is more corrosion resistant than other stainless steel types.
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