Corrosion is the deterioration of materials due to chemical reactions between them and their environment. This process manifests itself as an electrochemical reaction in which atoms on a metal surface are oxidized, leading to the formation of substances such as rust. Corrosion is a naturally occurring phenomenon driven by the environment, as oxidized metals tend to be more stable than their non-oxidized counterparts. This degradation can cause significant damage in various structures, including pipelines, buildings, bridges, and engines.
In the case of airplane engines, corrosion can affect both operational and non-operational engines. The air intake required for most aircraft engines, combined with the exhaust gases produced by the engine, can lead to corrosion within the engine. Even new engines are susceptible to corrosion and after a short period of inactivity, corrosion can be observed on the cylinder walls.
In the context of engines, corrosion can occur in two ways:
- Hot - At high temperatures, vanadium and sodium in the fuel can react and cause corrosion in the exhaust passage.
- Cold - Sulphur in the fuel can cause corrosion of the cylinder liner and combustion chamber.