The Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) last week announced a breakthrough in material science which would allow thermal barrier coatings (TBC) to endure greater temperatures in the gas turbines they are used to coat. This would make possible an increase in firing temperatures at gas-fired power plants, allowing these facilities to surpass the 2,192°F threshold at which older-generation TBC failed.
The new coating can potentially be used at temperatures as high as 2,732°F, representing an increase in operable temperature of some 572°F over older technologies, and boosting efficiency while decreasing carbon emissions at power plants.
Working under a NETL-sponsored Small Business Technology Transfer project, researchers from HiFunda LLC and the University of Connecticut successfully demonstrated that an oxide called yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) provides for higher operating temperatures when applied to surfaces using a process called solution precursor plasma spray (SPPS).
Nine industrial partners are now testing these results and evaluating the process for use in production facilities. Additionally, a new company—Solution Spray Technologies LLC—has been created to provide the new technology to industry.