Before various safety measures came about, certain elements of an aircraft were known for having various risks. For example, the aircraft fuel tank presented a number of hazards related to combustion and fires which past aircraft faced. However, now highly reliable technologies such as the air separation module (ASM) have come about, all but removing the major fire hazards of the aircraft fuel tank in the modern day.
There are three elements that drive a fire, including fuel, oxygen, and an ignition source. This is why engineers put much effort into managing the concentrations of fuel and oxygen specifically, as they can cause various hazards if they are allowed to exceed certain specified amounts. If a fire were to occur, it would most likely do so in an area known as the ullage, that of which is the empty space above fuel in the aircraft fuel tank. The reason that fires would occur here is because of a build-up of oxygen, meaning that two of the three elements would be present with a fire starting as soon as an ignition source comes into play. As fuel cannot be removed from the tank since it is the main source of power for the engine, engineers work on managing the oxygen aspect through the use of modern inerting systems.
Inerting systems are placed in aircraft to introduce an inert gas such as nitrogen into a fuel tank, allowing for oxygen to be displaced. These inerting systems are known as Nitrogen Generation Systems (NGS), and they are highly useful as nitrogen has a significantly lower ability to combust when compared to oxygen. In order for nitrogen to effectively dilute oxygen, an air separation module is used. ASMs aid in this process through the use of semi-permeable, hollow fiber membranes that remove oxygen from compressed streams of air. Through this process, the air separation module creates a stream of nitrogen-enriched air (NEA) as its output.
While this process is highly effective, it is not completely perfect. Generally, with an air separation module removing oxygen from engine bleed air, one will end up with an in-tank atmosphere exhibiting oxygen levels below 12%. While this seems high, it is much smaller than the typical 21% oxygen level values present in surrounding atmospheric air. Furthermore, this level is well below the threshold for fuel vapors to sustain combustion.
As you can see, the air separation module plays a major role in keeping conditions safe within the aircraft fuel tank, making it an important system to have alongside other various safety equipment. Here at Aviation Orbit, we can help you secure competitive pricing and rapid lead times on the various parts and components we carry, all of which have been sourced from top global manufacturers we trust. With our RFQ service, customers can quickly and easily request quotes for their comparisons with responses being given within 15 minutes of receiving and reviewing a completed form. See how we can act as your strategic sourcing partner today when you kickstart the purchasing process with us.
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