How Is Tungsten Used in the Aerospace Industry — 5 Applications
How Is Tungsten Used in the Aerospace Industry — 5 Applications

How Is Tungsten Used in the Aerospace Industry — 5 Applications

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Oct 05, 2022

Introduction:

The mechanism design and safety performance of aerospace equipment are closely related to the physical, chemical, and mechanical properties of the materials used. As mentioned above, tungsten metal has a series of excellent properties, which can meet the requirements of material properties required by aerospace. It has been widely used in some key components of equipment such as satellites, aircraft, and aero-engines.

In aerospace engine development and research, one of the most attractive technologies is surface enhancement coating. One of the most important coatings for aircraft parts is tungsten carbide.

Machineable high-density tungsten alloys offer unmatched stabilization properties. These anti-vibration metals provide vibration dampening capabilities, making them the perfect choice for such applications as helicopter blades, aircraft ballast weights, missile components, and more.

Applications of tungsten alloys in the aerospace industry include a wide range of counterweights for satellite and helicopter rotor blades, missiles, and aerospace gyro control. These materials are also used in the cockpit to increase the vibration-warning control required, as opposed to anti-vibration.

Other aerospace applications of tungsten alloys include mass balances in satellites and helicopter rotor blades, and in gyroscopic controls for missiles and avionics. In contrast to their vibration damping applications, these materials are also utilized, in the cockpit, to exaggerate the required vibrations in stall-warning shakers for control columns.

Tungsten Counterweights:

Probably the most well-known outlet for tungsten alloys is the aerospace industry, where weights and counterweights are often required to be housed in restricted areas. With significant reductions in size possible, this in turn, leads to greater control of weight distribution.

Additionally, counterweights are incorporated into the pitch control systems of many propeller designs as a failsafe mechanism.

The tungsten alloy counterweight parts increase the sensitivity of the control mechanism and keep the aircraft operating within acceptable limits. Vibration in the dynamic components of aircraft engines and propeller propulsion systems is highly undesirable, and a large number of counterweights can be used to reduce or eliminate the vibration caused by the mass imbalance of external rotating parts.

In addition, the counterweight is incorporated into many high control systems designed for propellers as a failure protection mechanism. In the flight, propellers are hydraulically controlled to maintain the correct Angle, while flight surfaces such as elevators, rudders, and ailerons are often optimized for performance using counterweight parts.

Tungsten alloys offer several advantages over traditional counterweight materials such as lead or steel. The high density of tungsten alloys allows for the use of smaller components, reducing the overall system size. Unlike lead, which can creep at room temperature, tungsten alloys are stable and can be used to emphasize the part of the machine that operates without the need for additional fabrication and packing.

Aircraft Turbines:

Heat-resistant materials could lead to improvements in propulsion systems such as aircraft and rocket propulsion turbines, as well as in the outer thermosphere structure of hypersonic aircraft.

High-end materials can reduce the consumption of oil and increase the inlet temperature of natural gas turbines, which will greatly contribute to the energy efficiency of aerospace.

Gyroscopes:

Tungsten alloy is the rotor material of a gyroscope, which is the heart of navigation and control systems for satellites, rockets, missiles, aircraft, submarines, and torpedoes. The stability of the gyroscope increases with the weight of the gyro, and the stability and control precision can be greatly improved by using tungsten alloy as the rotor of the gyroscope.

Rockets:

Tungsten and its alloys can be used to make uncooled rocket nozzles, ion rings for ion rocket engines, jet blades and positioning rings, hot gas reflectors, and gas rushers. If tungsten replaces molybdenum as the inlet sleeve and throat liner for solid rocket motors, the use temperature of the material can be increased from 1760 ℃ to 3320 ℃ or more.

For example, the nozzles of American Polaris A-3 missile are made of high-temperature tungsten tubes permeated with 10%~15% silver; the Apollo rockets were also made of tungsten.

Hypersonic Vehicles:

The W-Cu composite is a strong refractory metal material manufactured by a strictly controlled process including pressing, sintering and infiltrating with copper or silver, which can be used as a rocket engine nozzle baffle plate, and it is enough to handle the combustion temperature more than 3400 ℃.

Besides, the material is also suitable for rocket engines, hypersonic aircraft leading edge, and re-entry aircraft thermal insulation shield. The surface of the hypersonic vehicle developed in the United States is reportedly covered with about 400kg of tungsten, in addition to the nose cone.

The United States Joint Technology Center has produced a boron-coated tungsten wire for aerospace equipment. The tungsten wire has the advantages of high strength, low density, and high stiffness, and can be used as the shell of a rocket and the skeleton of a spaceship.

Conclusion:

Tungsten carbide has been widely accepted in the aviation industry mainly because it is helping aircraft perform better.

Flying faster and higher with less fuel are goals shared by virtually all aircraft in – or soon to be in – service worldwide.

One of the major needs of today’s aerospace industry is to accelerate the growth of long-haul passenger and cargo transportation while reducing fuel consumption and pollution. Products and components made of high-performance tungsten alloys are critical for future large civil aircraft, supersonic aircraft, and high-performance aircraft.

How Is Tungsten Used in the Aerospace Industry — 5 Applications
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