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ACS Omega. 2019 May 8;4(5):8255-8273. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.8b03576. eCollection 2019 May 31.

Formation of Surface Deposits on Steel and Titanium Aviation Fuel Tubes under Real Operating Conditions.

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V-Research GmbH, Stadtstrasse 33, 6850 Dornbirn, Austria.
Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iaşi, Bulevardul Profesor Dimitrie Mangeron 67, Iaşi 700050, Romania.
AC2T research GmbH, Viktor Kaplan-Straße 2, 2700 Wiener Neustadt, Austria.
National Centre for Advanced Tribology (nCATS), University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Southampton SO17 1BJ, U.K.


In this study, stainless steel and titanium (Ti) tubes obtained from a turbofan engine after the end of its lifetime were analyzed in order to compare the amount of pyrolytic coke present and its influence on the parent, base material. Various analytical techniques including microhardness and topographical evaluations, optical emission spectrometry (OES), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) were applied. On steel surfaces, a thick pyrolytic coke deposition layer consisting of carbon and oxygen and also containing elements from the tube material, fuel, and fuel additives was found. The concentration of elements from the pyrolytic coke continuously decreased with distance from the surface of the deposit, while the concentrations of elements from the tube material continuously increased, with the concentrations of elements from the fuel and the fuel additives being relatively constant. With ultrasonic cleaning in distilled water, most of the deposits could be removed. Only carbon-rich patches with a thickness of more than 300 nm remained adhered to the surface and/or had diffused into the original material. On Ti surfaces, the thickness of the C-rich fuel deposit layer was significantly thinner as compared to that on the stainless steel; however, the surface was covered with an ∼3 μm-thick oxide layer, which consisted of elements from the fuel additives. It is believed that the beneficial properties of Ti covered with a thin layer of TiO2, such as low adhesion and/or surface energy, have promoted different deposition mechanisms compared to those of stainless steel and thus prevented pyrolytic coke deposition and the related material deterioration observed on stainless steel.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no competing financial interest.

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