Mechanical Engineering Faculty Research


Understanding the Heat Transfer and Solidification Plasma-Sprayed Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia Coatings

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A variety of microstructures have been observed in plasma-sprayed yttria-partially stabilized zirconia (YSZ) thermal barrier coatings. Control of the coating microstructures requires a good understanding of the heat transfer and solidification during the process. This article presents a quantitative analysis of heat transfer and solidification of plasma-sprayed YSZ splats. The analysis is based on a simple heat transfer and solidification model that solves a one-dimensional moving boundary problem with consideration of melt undercooling prior to solidification and nonequilibrium crystalline growth kinetics at the moving interface. The solidification morphology is first assumed to be planar, and the stability of the planar interface is examined against the absolute stability velocity calculated from the linear stability theory. Examining the temperature distribution in a solidifying YSZ zirconia splat indicates that a large positive temperature gradient exists in front of the interface, which leads to a stable planar interface and a segregation-free columnar structure, agreeing well with experimental observation. The model also finds that a low interface velocity results from poor heat transfer, which leads to a formation of cells and, therefore, the segregation of yttria. A steady-state dendrite tip growth model is then employed to calculate the radius of the cell tips and thus the cell spacings, which is then compared with experimental observations.

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Materials and Manufacturing Processes





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