Image Credit: NASA/Marvin Smith
Ron Colantonio (left), manager of the Atmospheric Environment Safety Technologies Project at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, discussed with NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden the latest testing and research on airplane engine icing during the administrator’s February 2012 visit to the center. Colantonio showed Bolden how a large horizontal array of spray bars, such as those pictured, would emit a cloud of ice crystals in high-altitude, low pressure conditions that match those an airliner might experience in flight.
NASA scientists are mounting a research campaign using flight and ground tests to solve this aviation mystery, in which ice crystals associated with warm-weather storms can be ingested into the core of a hot jet engine, melt and then re-freeze. As larger amounts of ice build up, some of the ice can break off and cause damage inside the engine, or melt and cause the engine to lose power or shut down altogether in a flameout.
Part of the research effort involves using the spray bars to simulate the icing conditions in engines on the ground at the Propulsion Systems Laboratory at Glenn. Eventually, a full-scale engine will be mounted opposite the bar array.