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NIST Renews Award To General Electric Co. For Development Of Advanced Ceramic Coating Technology For Turbine Engines

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology has announced that it will renew a multiyear research award under the Advanced Technology Program to General Electric Co.’s Research & Development Division (Schenectady, N.Y.) to develop an "intelligent process” for applying ceramic thermal barrier coatings on hot components of the turbine engines used in power plants to improve the engines’ efficiency, power production, emission and lifetime.

The NIST award renewal is for $292,380. The original three-year project, begun in 1995, was projected to receive a total of approximately $1,595,000 in ATP funding, matched by approximately $1,676,000 in industry funding.

Advanced Technology Program awards are designed to help industry pursue risky, challenging technologies that have the potential for a big pay-off for the nation’s economy. ATP projects focus on enabling technologies that will create opportunities for new, world-class products, services and industrial processes, benefiting not just the ATP participants but other companies and industries—and ultimately consumers and taxpayers. The ATP’s cost-shared funding enables industry to pursue promising technologies that otherwise would be ignored or developed too slowly to compete in rapidly changing world markets.

Detailed information on this project, Intelligent Processing of Materials for Thermal Barrier Coatings, is provided below.

Intelligent Processing of Materials for Thermal Barrier Coatings

Much of the world's electrical power is generated in what are essentially gargantuan jet engines bolted to a plant floor. The efficiency of these gas turbine engines increases with temperature, but melting of metallic components sets a limit on operating temperatures. Engineers have developed ceramic coatings that protect metals in the hottest regions of the engine, but these coatings do not have the consistent quality and durability needed to assure satisfactory performance in future machines. As a result, engineers always have designed and operated turbine engines at less than optimum temperatures to minimize the chances of catastrophic failure. The General Electric Co. proposes to push the envelope of gas turbine technology by developing a new "intelligent process" for applying thermal barrier coatings to engine parts such as turbine blades that are in the hottest regions of the engines. Depending on the design, engines with the coated parts could be a half-percent more efficient, put out 2 percent more power, cut emissions in half, and/or double the lifetime of the components. Each of these performance advances would be highly valued by the power generation industry. The goal of the project is to replace the poorly understood process by which ceramic coatings now can be deposited onto metal engine parts with a more knowledge-based and data-intense process that will improve the quality, reproducibility, and reliability of the thermal barrier coatings. Particular challenges include development of a suite of sensors to monitor deposition, accurate process models, on-line feedback so that the system can make real-time adjustments as the coating is being applied, and integration of the overall system into a manufacturing environment. Subcontractors on the project include researchers at the National Research Council Canada, and the University of Minnesota.

General Electric Company
Schenectady, NY

Technologies: Materials Processing for Heavy Manufacturing

Project length: 3 years

ATP funds: $1,595 K

Cost-shared funds (est.): $1,676 K

Total project funds (est.): $3,271 K

Contact: Dr. F. Peter Ford, (518) 387-5821, ford [at] (ford[at]crd[dot]ge[dot]com)

Released November 3, 1997, Updated November 27, 2017