New Environmental-Thermal Barrier Coatings for Ultrahigh Temperature Alloys

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College Park, Maryland
Project Term:
04/23/2021 - 03/31/2023

Technology Description:

The University of Maryland will leverage a newly invented, ultrafast high-temperature sintering (UHS) method to perform fast exploration of new environmental-thermal barrier coatings (ETBCs) for 1300°C-capable refractory alloys for harsh turbine environments. UHS enables ultrafast synthesis of high-melting oxide coatings, including multilayers, in less than a minute, enabling rapid evaluation of novel coating compositions. By using UHS with fast-fail tests and modeling and analytics tools, the team will be able to explore hundreds of compositions and coating architectures to design and optimize 1700°C-capable ETBCs with different layer sequences, thicknesses, porosity levels, and novel compositions. Hundreds of ETBCs will be fabricated on refractory alloy substrates and tested for thermal conductivity, thermal stability, resistance to thermal cycling, and other properties. The 1700°C-capable ETBCs on the 1300°C-capable alloys could improve the efficiency of natural gas turbines and jet engines by 7% and provide a combined primary energy saving of 18-20 quads of energy by 2050.

Potential Impact:

Combining development of new ultrahigh temperature materials with compatible coatings and manufacturing technologies has the potential to increase gas turbine efficiency up to 7%, which will significantly reduce wasted energy and carbon emissions.


Coal-fired and nuclear-powered plant electricity generation is uneconomical, unsafe, outdated, and/or contributes to significant CO2 emissions. Increasing gas turbine efficiency is critical to ensuring that plants can effectively deploy their capacity to the grid, increasing energy security.


Improving gas turbine efficiency can significantly reduce carbon emissions from air travel, which represents 2% of all global carbon emissions.


By 2050, a 7% efficiency improvement in the natural gas turbines used for U.S. electricity generation could save up to 15-16 quads of energy; in civilian aircraft turbines, 3-4 quads of energy could be saved for U.S. air travel.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Philseok Kim
Project Contact:
Prof. Ji-Cheng Zhao
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Harvard University

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