Thermal barrier coatings are widely used in gas turbines to protect the gas turbine metal components against very high combustion product temperature. To improve energy efficiency, higher combustion temperatures are needed. A limiting factor at present is the stability under extreme and prolonged heating of thermal barrier coatings. The coatings are typically made by the air plasma sprayed process in which fine particles of yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) are melted or partially melted and ejected from plasma jet at high speed onto the bond coated substrate metal. With increasing combustion temperature and pressure in the modern gas turbine engines radiative heat transfer is becoming an important portion of the overall heat transfer in the thermal barrier coating. This study has demonstrated that the commonly used Kubelka-Munk method in the radiative property reduction from the measured transmittance and reflectance spectra of YSZ coatings will incur inaccurate result when the coating optical thickness is not sufficiently large. An alternative method — the discrete ordinates method with the asymmetric spherical ring angular quadrature — is used instead. The absorption and scattering coefficients of air plasma sprayed YSZ films are determined over the wavelength range from 1 to 2.6 μm at room temperature. Over this near infrared wavelength range, the scattering coefficient decreases with the increasing wavelength and the absorption coefficient is very small overall. The pore size distributions before and after the 50-hr temperature gradient, thermal cycling are compared. The sintering effect as well as the crack growth will impact the coating radiative properties. These results point to a clear need for better understanding of the radiative heat transfer process, which includes the microstructure-property relationship, progressive changes of the radiative properties with the operation condition and time.

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