Benefits of High-Temperature Materials in Aviation

High-temperature materials are critical to aviation applications. Aircraft engines can reach temperatures as high as 2100°C, and vehicles at high altitudes are subject to extreme temperature fluctuations. To ensure safe and reliable operation, aircraft equipment and components must be capable of withstanding these temperatures, as well as high pressure, corrosion, vibrations, and impact. Fortunately, with advances in materials technology, a variety of heat-resistant materials have become available for use in aviation.

High-Temperature Materials

Composite materials have become particularly popular in aviation since the 1980s and consist of two or more blended materials to produce a final product that exhibits characteristics different from those of the base materials. Composites used for aviation typically offer exceptional resistance to impacts, fatigue, corrosion, and broad temperature variations. 

They often display high strength-to-weight ratios, flexibility, radar absorption, and flutter suppression, which make them especially useful for aviation applications in which stability and reduced weight are vital. Ceramic matrix composites, braided composites, and intermetallic alloys are especially useful high-temperature materials for aviation applications.

Ceramic Matrix Composites

In ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), the constituent materials are blended in a grid of ceramic fibers for a particularly tough and durable material. CMCs can withstand extremely high temperatures and are used to enhance overall aircraft structural performance. They are lighter than nickel superalloys, with greater temperature tolerance and significant resistance to pesting and fatigue. 

Braided Composites

As the name implies, braided composites are composed of interwoven strands of the base materials. Technological advancements have largely automated the manufacturing process, making braided composites more popular than ever. They are especially valuable for their strength, toughness, and resistance to damage. 

Intermetallic Alloys

In addition to composite materials, intermetallic alloys have found a niche in the aviation industry. Intermetallic alloys consist of multiple metals, often nickel and titanium, blended to form an alloy with solid crystalline structure. The specific properties of intermetallic alloys depend largely on the constituent metals, but those used in aviation tend to have high melting points, superior thermal conductivity, low density, and high resistance to corrosion and oxidation.

High-temperature composites and intermetallic alloys can be tailored to meet the needs of a broad range of applications in the aviation industry, particularly for insulation and hardware such as high-temperature gaskets.

High-Temperature Insulation

High-temperature insulation is crucial for the protection of sensitive aircraft components from temperature fluctuations and high levels of compression. This specialized insulation can be found in a broad range of applications within the aviation industry. 

Aircraft Interiors

High-temperature insulation is a key component of temperature control systems in aircraft interiors. It is often used to insulate air ducts and tubing, as well as paneling for walls, ceilings, and overhead storage compartments. 

Thrust Reversal Systems

Thrust reversal systems help to slow the aircraft by rerouting engine exhaust toward the front of the vehicle, creating air resistance and reducing the speed of the aircraft. Insulation must be used to protect surrounding components from the extreme heat of the released exhaust.

Electrical Components and Batteries

Many electronic components used in aviation are highly sensitive and must therefore be protected from heat and electromagnetic interference. High-heat insulation protects electronic instruments, the ignition battery, and auxiliary power units from extreme temperatures and interference. In addition, high-heat insulation helps to insulate against electrical fires for enhanced aircraft safety.

Black Boxes

High-temperature insulation is also used to protect the black boxes of aircraft to ensure they can withstand extreme conditions that may occur during an emergency. The exterior armor of a black box must be composed of a highly durable and thermally efficient insulating material, so that it can be recovered in the event of an unexpected emergency

High-Temperature Gaskets

Similar to high-temperature insulation, high-temperature gaskets are critically important to the safe operation of aircraft. They ensure an airtight seal between mating surfaces to insulate against leaks. Due to the extreme temperatures in which aircraft equipment operates, high-temperature gaskets are useful for a variety of applications. 

Window gaskets are installed to seal the glass and sheet metal around aircraft windows, and must withstand extreme temperature fluctuations and pressure at high altitude. Similarly, fuel door gaskets are used to seal the fuel system from harsh external environments. To be fully effective, fuel door gaskets must also be resistant to corrosion from the harsh chemicals in jet fuel. 

High-temperature gaskets are also widely used to seal exterior aircraft components, such as the wings and other surfaces. In this setting, the gaskets must withstand extreme pressure, high speeds, and the extremely low temperatures of the upper atmosphere.

High-Temperature Aerospace Parts from RCF Technologies

At RCF, we understand that aircraft components and insulation must be composed of materials that can withstand the high temperatures common in aerospace applications. To this end, we have developed our specialized Rishon® composite material, which exhibits a number of characteristics that make it particularly useful in the aerospace industry. The hallmark properties of Rishon include:

  • Broad Temperature Range
  • Fireproof
  • Chemical Compatibility
  • Speedy Vulcanization Process
  • Sound and Vibration Absorbent
  • Heat and Flame Insulator
  • Electrical Conductivity
  • Low Outgassing

For more than 40 years, RCF Technologies has worked closely with our customers in aviation to design and produce industry specialized seals, couplings, ducting, and gaskets for commercial aircraft. Our broad range of experience in high-temperature applications extends to aerospace, automotive, marine, and petrochemical applications. 

To learn more about our high temperature components and solutions, contact us today!