Fast Five With Honeywell - Lea Kiesel
Q. What is Honeywell's components business and specifically thermal barrier coatings business?
A. Thermal barrier coatings are the ultra-thin material that protects vital parts from high heat in a turbine engine. We have decades of experience making jet engines, and we know a thing or two about thermal barrier coatings. Our patented coating has been the industry standard for nearly 25 years and is used on more than 10 million airfoils worldwide.
Q. What is so special about Honeywell's thermal barrier coating?
A. Honeywell uses electron-beam physical vapor deposition (EB-PVD). The Honeywell advanced EB-PVD coating lasts two to four times longer than the industry standard, lowering the overhaul costs for the engine. This coating also has improved toughness and can withstand temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That means new and future engines can be configured to run hotter, extracting up to 10% more power and up to a 1% improvement in fuel consumption. It has 33% lower conductivity than competing coatings and its three times tougher. There is also an air plasma spray version that provides similar benefits, expanding the market size.
I look at thermal barrier coating as sunscreen for the part—it extends the life and allows you to get sun without getting a burn.
Q. What is the business model you use to provide the EB-PVD?
A. We provide a quick-turn service to our customers. They send a machined part to us, without any coating on it. We then apply the thin layer of coating and send it back. The customer finishes the part and sells it as a spare or installs it in a jet engine or a small industrial gas turbine.
Q. What's so unique about EB-PVD?
A. This is a capital-intensive operation based on the sheer size of the coater— the coater itself requires up to 5,000 sq ft of floor space and is almost three stories high. In our process, atoms from an ingot are transformed into a gaseous state and then precipitate in solid form in an acceptable microstructure on the foil, which is several inches tall.
And, the microstructure of the coating is unique. The process creates a crystalline structure that in turn gives strain compliance—giving much longer life when compared to a porous air plasma spray. EB-PVD is automated, a software-intensive process, with our team loading and unloading the parts into the coater and ensuring the appropriate microstructure and thickness are consistently maintained over the entire part.
Q. Beyond aerospace, what other industries use this technology?
A. In addition to aerospace and defense, EB-PVD is used in power generation and the oil and gas sectors on small industrial gas turbine parts. Our engineers are constantly looking at ways to support other applications, including supersonic civilian aircraft, whether those needs are coming tomorrow or 15 years in the future.
Learn more about Honeywell's initiatives here.