Rolls-Royce has blades covered

Rolls-Royce has 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 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, IowaState’s Alan and Julie Renken Professor in Materials Science and Engineering and a co-inventor of the coating.

The bond coating is said to improve the durability and reliability of a ceramic thermal barrier that is 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 IowaState 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 coating technologies.’

Dr William J. Brindley, the chief technologist for Rolls-Royce said, ‘This new coating offers excellent oxidation resistance. 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, aluminium and hafnium. It was invented by Gleeson, Sordelet and Wen Wang, a former IowaState postdoctoral student. Gleeson, Sordelet, Brindley and Bingtao Li, a former IowaState 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 said Rolls-Royce will have an exclusive license to commercialise the inventions. She said patents are pending for the inventions and the term of the license agreement is for the life of any patents.