Bond Coating Helps Turbines Resist Heat
Aero-News has learned
Rolls-Royce Corp. recently acquired exclusive rights to use a
coating invented by Iowa State University researchers, that helps
turbines stand up to the heat in jet engines.
The unique bond coating will be applied to engine turbine blades
made of nickel-based superalloys. Those superalloys are designed
for strength but need help withstanding metal temperatures
approaching 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit inside the hot section of a
jet engine, said Brian Gleeson, Iowa State's Alan and Julie Renken
Professor in Materials Science and Engineering and a co-inventor of
The bond coating improves the durability and reliability of a
ceramic thermal barrier that's applied over the bond coat, said
Daniel Sordelet, a senior scientist and group leader for the US
Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory on the Iowa State campus and
a co-inventor of the technology.
"This coating composition is very good in terms of performance,"
Gleeson said. "It offers significant advantages over existing
"This new coating offers excellent oxidation resistance," added
Dr. William J. Brindley, the chief technologist for Rolls-Royce
Corp. "It's a new concept in coatings and a real step forward in
understanding how and why coatings work. The technology also
represents a remarkably quick transition from fundamental science
to practical application."
Gleeson said the coating is based on a composition comprising
platinum, nickel, aluminum and hafnium. It was invented by Gleeson,
Sordelet and Wen Wang, a former Iowa State postdoctoral student.
Gleeson, Sordelet, Brindley and Bingtao Li, a former Iowa State
doctoral student and postdoctoral researcher, also developed a
cost-effective method for applying the coating to engine parts.
Nita Lovejoy, the associate director of the Iowa State
University Research Foundation, Inc., said Rolls-Royce will have an
exclusive license to commercialize the inventions. She said patents
are pending for the inventions and the term of the license
agreement is for the life of any patents. She also said the license
has the potential to be an important source of revenue for the
Inventions developed at Iowa State are protected by the research
foundation with patents and are transferred for commercial use
under licenses. Any licensing revenues after expenses and
administrative fees are split among the inventor, the inventor's
college within the university and the research foundation. The
research foundation supports itself and the Office of Intellectual
Property and Technology Transfer with its share of the revenues and
provides grants to support Iowa State research programs.
Sordelet said the coating
compositions grew out of basic research that began about seven
years ago and was supported by the Office of Naval Research. He
said a key advantage to this technology is that it is mechanically
compatible with the superalloys it covers and protects. It reacts
to the heat and stress of an engine about the same way the
superalloy does. And that gives the coating composition -- and
therefore the engine parts -- better performance and a longer
The Iowa State researchers continue to work on the coating
composition project. Sordelet said they're hoping to develop a
better and cheaper way to produce the coating. They're also looking
for new coating compositions and new ways to deposit them on
"We say that we put science to practice," Gleeson said,
referring to the "Science with Practice" motto on the university
seal. "And this is an excellent example of that."
The coating won a prestigious R&D 100 Award in 2005. The
annual awards have been called the "Oscars of applied science" by
the Chicago Tribune, according to Iowa State.