Aircraft Get ‘Intelligent’ Solution to Frozen Fuel Lines

By: | September 19th, 2013

One of the most significant problems for planes is preventing water, waste and fuel lines from freezing up in the sky. When it does happen, you end up with a scene like the one pictured above, which occurred five years ago.

British Airways Flight 38, traveling from Beijing to London, crashed just short of its destination after a 5,000-mile (8,050 km) journey. No one was killed but 47 were injured, one seriously.

An investigation determined ice crystals in fuel lines caused the accident. The aviation industry has been plagued with frozen line incidents for decades. Fortunately, new technology will reduce that problem significantly.

High Tech Components Needed To Make Aircraft Safer

New commercial aircraft have more than 3,280 feet (1000 m) of water, waste and fuel pipes. New heating technology, the Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) Heater, heats lines safely and provides greater efficiency and savings while meeting the aircraft industry’s stringent safety requirements.

Pelonis Technologies Delivers Intelligent, Safe PTC Heating Technology

Pelonis Technologies, a NASA contractor and contributor to the Space Shuttle, manufactures PTC heating elements made of ceramic stones. PTC heaters have dynamic, self-regulating, self-limiting heating characteristics.

Relative to other materials, PTC ceramic stones heat quickly and reach a predefined temperature plateau; at this point semiconducting and ferro-electrical properties produce an increase in resistance, reducing the current draw, to protect it from overheating. The rise in resistance comes about within a window of just a few degrees centigrade.

PTC Heater Solution To Freezing Aircraft Lines

PTC heaters use polymetric intelligent heating. Point wise temperature control ensures that the entire length of aircraft pipes are heated to the required temperature without the need for switches, sensors or extra wiring.

Self-regulating foils heat pipes and lines only where it is needed. So there’s never overheating, which reduces energy consumption. Aircraft pipes are kept free from frost and ice while aircraft fuel, water and waste systems remain functional, secure and safe.

Because PTC heaters have fewer components and assembly steps they are cheaper as well.


David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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