Environmental Testing

Testing > Environmental Testing

When we do testing to measure mechanical properties, we don’t just do them in air.  When you think about it, jet engines operate in a range of different environments.  Because of this, we do a range of tests in different environments so we know how a material will react.  Some of the environments we use are:

  • In a vacuum.  Once you get to high altitudes, there isn’t much air and so how a material behaves can be different.  Also, by testing in a vacuum we can understand the impact air (especially oxygen) has on the life of a material/component.
  • In water.  The amount of moisture in the air is an important factor when designing a jet engine.  Water in the air is pretty common and so we need to know that the materials we use in the engine can handle clouds and the rain.
  • In salt.  Planes travel around the planet and most of the planet is ocean.  This means a jet engine will be breathe in salty air at some point.  The salt in the air can cause a range of effects on a component, especially at high temperatures.
  • In other gases.  Jet engines don’t just breathe in normal air, and can often find themselves breathing in other corrosive gases.  Because this happens we need to know how this will cause damage to the engine itself.

To do environmental testing we use a chamber that surrounds our sample.  On the outside of this is usually the furnace which provides the heat.  Below is an animation showing a fatigue test done in a gaseous environment.