Project: Novel duplex processes to enhance compressor blade life and retain engine efficiency

AIMS: Plasma-assisted physical vapour deposition (PAPVD) and chemical vapour deposition (PACVD);coating of tools & components with hard ceramic thin films is now a commonly accepted means to reduce wear and improve productivity; however, technical challenges remain in extending PAPVD/PACVD-based treatment techniques to a wider range of commercial substrate materials and operating conditions. Three main examples are: i) treatment of non-ferrous engineering substrate materials (e.g. nickel alloys, light-alloys and composite materials) -where coating load support is low; ii) addressing known problems of reduced fatigue life when applying hard, stiff ceramic films to soft, compliant metal substrates, and iii) improved durability in "extreme operating environments" - for example in conditions of high temperature erosion and/or thermal cycling. Industrial examples of the urgent need to jointly address all 3 challenges is the coating of aero-engine compressor blades for improved performance, both in normal use and in extreme work-conditions/ operating environments (e.g. sand erosion encountered under desert conditions) and compressor blades for land-based turbine generators.OBJECTIVES: This project harnesses the combined expertise of TECVAC, a UK Surface Engineering company which routinely coats aero-engine compressor blades; TECMAT, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology with novel surface treatment capabilities and SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY, of international repute for research in materials science, plasma-assisted processing and coating characterisation & testing. The main objective is to develop new "duplex" surface treatment techniques- and relevant erosion-testing capabilities- for improved Ni-alloy and Ti-alloy compressor blade performance. The project will be centred on the commercial up-scaling and integration of PAPVD/PACVD processes with TECMAT´s innovative Powder Immersion Reaction Assisted Coating (PIRAC) technique. This will provide a low-cost treatment for (e.g.) non-ferrous substrate materials with functionally-graded surface properties to improve significantly the performance of subsequently-applied plasma-assisted coatings and treatments. Ti6Al4V and Inconel 718 substrate materials will be targeted due to their importance in key industrial sectors, and the need to ensure effective time usage. EXPECTED OUTCOMES:The project outcomes will meet the strong demand by aero-engine manufacturers and end-users (both Commercial and Military) for new technologies that improve reliability, durability, energy efficiency, sustainability, and reduce environmental impact. The combined PIRAC+PAPVD/PACVD duplex treatment technology also has, in the medium term, truly exciting prospects to be exploited on a diverse range of materials for commercial application in high value markets, including transportation, biomedical (healthcare) , energy supply (land-based turbine generators & renewable) and other "multifunctional" areas, with significant benefits to society in the UK, Israel and the wider European community.

Acronym NEET (Reference Number: ESM-1935)
Project Topic Engineering structural materials
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Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Tecvac Ltd Coordinator United Kingdom
2 Technion - Israel Institute of Technology Partner Israel
3 The University of Sheffield Partner United Kingdom