Not long ago, I was talking to an airframe and power plant mechanic and he had to go out on his day off and take care of an oil leak that spooked one of the pilots during his preflight. It turned out that is it was a simple problem, and it was fixed right away, but if he hadn’t gone out on his day off during the weekend, the aircraft would’ve been grounded. It turns out the oil leak was nothing too serious, but the pilot was unsure, and for his own safety, and the safety of the very expensive $6 million aircraft he chose to not fly it.
Okay so let’s talk about this for second, because maybe some of these oil leaks should be fixing themselves. Back in the old days of the radial engines, there used to be a joke that if the airplane wasn’t leaking oil, that was a really bad sign, and you shouldn’t fly it. In other words, they weren’t supposed to leak oil, but in the modern age, we want everything to work perfect all the time, and if oil is leaking, that is almost as if the human body is bleeding, and there is a problem somewhere, a problem which needs to be looked at. We can all understand that right?
Still, what if we had a future nano tech solution for this problem? Perhaps we could put nanoparticles at all the fittings, and along the hoses, it might be a coating of some type. When there was an oil leak all the nanoparticles would get together and swarm the leak to stop the bleeding so to speak? Right now, we have bioengineered blood which coagulates very quickly and seals up wounds for soldiers. This of course is applied by a human, perhaps a medic, self-medicating, or by one of the soldier’s buddies on the battlefield. Perhaps in the future all of this could be done simultaneously from inside the uniform, but I digress.
It’s not that the digression wasn’t needed, or shouldn’t have been stated however, because if we took that same theory of that obvious future innovation and applied it inside the cowling of an aircraft we could essentially do the same thing; self-healing oil leak fixing. Perhaps we should be thinking about this for pipelines, water lines, engines, and a host of other things. It makes sense, and future smart materials should be able to do this.
After all we have self-cleaning windows, and titanium dioxide which automatically cleans stainless steel kitchen equipment. It’s not such a far-fetched idea. Therefore, I ask that you please consider all this and think on.