Coating could triple service life of aircraft engines

Researchers in Sweden have created a coating that could extend the service life of aircraft engines by 300%.

The coating consists of a powder made up of ceramic and plastic nanoparticles, which is then added to a liquid carrier.

The ceramic particles provide insulation against heat, while the plastic ones allow tiny pores to form within the coating to give it some elasticity.

Once the coating is heated up to 7,000 - 8,000ÂșC and the ceramic particles have melted, it can then be sprayed onto metal components using a process known as plasma spray application.

Unlike traditional coatings, in which sandwiched layers are stacked on top of one another, the new coating's structure takes the form of tiny standing columns just 0.5mm thick.

The researchers claim this allows it to be more flexible and less prone to cracking. The plasma spray application also means that irregular surfaces can be protected with greater ease and efficiency.

The coating was created by a team from University West in collaboration with aircraft engine manufacturer GKN Aerospace and Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery, which makes gas turbines.

It is hoped that the technology will be used in both aircraft engines and gas turbines within the next two years.

Laura Hopperton

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