Bondcoat developments for thermal barrier coatings
The prime design considerations for modern nickel based superalloys for use in aero gas-turbine engines, are those of mechanical performance, namely good resistance to creep and fatigue with good toughness and microstructural phase stability. Design of the current generation of superalloys has attained these properties at the expense of environmental resistance. This design philosophy has lead to the widespread use of surface coatings technology to protect hot-section componentry from the harsh operating environment. The ongoing drive towards higher operating temperatures has lead to an interest, over the last few years, in thermal barrier coatings (TBCs). TBCs are duplex coating systems consisting of a thin, insulating, ceramic layer over a metallic bondcoat. The bondcoat provides both environmental protection and the necessary adhesive interface to maintain the adherence of the ceramic during the rigours of operation. Central to the performance of a TBC system is the integrity and adherence of the alumina scale promoted by the bondcoat. This study aimed to design and optimise a novel bondcoat system that was capable of out-performing the current generation of bondcoats and progress the resultant coating into a production ready status. This was achieved by comparing the performance of a range of bondcoats of both novel and standard compositions, using the modified scratch test in conjunction with hot isothermal and cyclic furnace tests. The down selected system was then analysed using a range of techniques including optical and electron microscopy, XRD, WDS and SIMS in order to understand the failure mechanisms. The results of the testing programme lead to bondcoat chemistry changes and processing improvements that enabled better performance to be achieved. The bondcoat was optimised and taken to a production standard by using the Taguchi Method of fractional factorial experimental design. The resultant coating system offered a higher TBC/bondcoat interface temperature capability and extended the life of the system at more moderate temperatures, beyond that offered by systems currently available. The coating system has subsequently been run as a bondcoat for EB-PVD TBCs and has successfully completed the duty cycles on a number of development and test engines.