I have to do an IB Chemistry IA and I wanted to relate it somehow to aviation; however, I can't do anything super complicated though because I'm only a high schooler. Here are some possible topics along with research questions...

  • Fuels - comparing qualities, response to different variables/environments
  • Aluminum alloys - strength testing, response to different weather, idk
  • Antifreeze - how it works, how to strengthen, etc
  • Paint - UV radiation corrosion, high temperatures

This list could go on and on, but I'm curious what you all think is a good idea. All a topic really needs is just a chemical reaction(s) that can be extensively studied and extended. Also it's important to note I don't actually have to do any experimentation, I just have to find information online in papers and databases. Sorry if these ideas sound ridiculous/outlandish, this is my first time attempting to tackle aviation from a scientific perspective. Thanks for any help.

  • $\begingroup$ Hydraulic fluid might be good topic. Plain oil is a fire hazard, where a leak might cause a flammable mist. The phosphate esthers used nowadays are not flammable, but very corrosive. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Jul 20 '19 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ This is not a discussion forum neither a "make my homework" place. You should define your topic by yourself, make some research and then when you have a question fitting the topic as defined in the help center, come back with your question. $\endgroup$ – Manu H Jul 21 '19 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ I have to agree with the other reasons for placing this on hold, but you already have some great ideas. Just pick one and run with it! Good luck, and check back in if you come up with a specific question tied to aviation. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Jul 21 '19 at 17:53

I'd do aluminum corrosion. Long term, it's the number one lurking monster in any airline's back closet.

There is interesting chemistry, not just in oxidation processes, but how the different alloy compounds used in making the aluminum have different effects on corrosion susceptibility. For example, the alloy 2024 has copper in it, which makes it its own battery and it corrodes readily in moisture, so it is normally supplied with a pure aluminum coating as a protective layer (alclad).

Besides 2024, 7075 is the most common alloy in commercial aviation and has zinc, which makes it corrosion resistant, but it's resistance to fatigue cracking is not so good.

The alloy 6061 has silicon in it which makes it inherently corrosion resistant and you can weld it, but it's not as stiff or strong as 2024. 6061 is popular with homebuilt aircraft because it's cheaper and easier to form.

Then you have the issues of placing aluminum adjacent to other materials. Aluminum isn't super happy being next to stainless steel (like using stainless hardware against bare alumimum in a moist environment - this is a big problem with sailboat masts) and really doesn't like being next to carbon fibre (on a jet design I was involved with, the floor beams were made of aluminum with carbon honeycomb floor panels and an inadequate barrier between them - it was a disaster in service and the rotted out beams had to be replaced with titanium ones).

Hard to beat as a topic with chemistry and a bit of drama potential to spice up your paper (corrosion is a very painful experience for an airplane owner). I'd title it "Aluminum Oxide Never Sleeps". If the teacher is old enough, he/she will get the gag.

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    $\begingroup$ Good suggestion. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Jul 20 '19 at 22:36

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