The Adhesion Strength of a Plasma Sprayed Silicon Bond Coating on a Silicon Carbide Ceramic Matrix Composite

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Silicon-based ceramics and ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), such as silicon carbide (SiC) fiber reinforced SiC, are promising candidates for hot section components in next generation turbine engines. Environmental barrier coatings (EBCs) are essential for implementing these components as they insulate and protect the substrate from reaction with water vapor in the engine environment. EBCs are typically deposited via atmospheric plasma spraying (APS) and preparing the component surfaces through cleaning and roughening prior to coating is a vital step to ensure sufficient coating adhesion. The adhesion of a plasma sprayed coating to the underlying component is one of the most important properties as the component will not be protected if the coating is not well adhered. Surface roughening of metallic components via grit blasting is well documented and understood, but much less is known about preparing ceramic and ceramic composite surfaces for thermal spray coating. Silicon coatings are often used as a bond coating between SiC-based components and EBC top layers, but the adhesion strength of plasma sprayed Si on these substrates, Si splat formation and the factors that affect coating formation and adhesion have not been well studied. The effects of automated grit blasting process parameters on surface roughness and material loss of a reaction bonded SiC (rb SiC) composite were evaluated. Surface roughness before and after grit blasting was evaluated with a confocal laser scanning microscope. The differences and advantages of automated grit blasting compared to manual grit blasting were observed. Most notably was the level of control at high nozzle traverse speeds resulting in reduction of material loss and consistency of roughening. At high nozzle traverse speeds, the amount of material loss decreased greatly with a small effect on induced surface roughness. The degree of grit blasting induced roughness and material loss was found to be largely dependent on the nature of the composite matrix and reinforcement, as well as blast nozzle traverse speed. A statistical model was developed to predict the substrate thickness loss and induced average roughness based on nozzle traverse speed and blast pressure for automated grit blasting. Additionally, laser ablation was used to create controlled, regularly patterned surface texture on rb SiC substrates to further investigate the role of texture parameters in Si coating adhesion. Si was plasma sprayed onto rb SiC substrates to deposit both thick coatings to evaluate adhesion strength and single splats to study splat formation. Surface roughness/texture, substrate preheat temperature and mean Si particle size were varied in plasma spray coating experiments to observe their role in coating adhesion strength. Si adhesion strength was found to be related to all three factors and a statistical model was developed to predict adhesion strength based on them. Substrate preheat temperature had a significant effect on both Si adhesion strength and Si splat formation on rb SiC. Single splat formation during plasma spraying of Si on SiC was simulated with software called SimDrop. Simulations of Si droplet impact, spreading and solidification during plasma spraying on smooth and textured SiC surfaces were used to investigate the effects of relevant process parameters on splat formation. Experimentally observed Si splats on smooth substrates at different temperatures during deposition were matched with simulated splats with the same spraying parameters. A change in thermal contact resistance with changing substrate preheat temperature was confirmed by the simulation results. The role of surface texture parameters for a regularly patterned surface texture in splat formation was demonstrated through simulation. This dissertation investigates methods of roughening and preparing a SiC composite substrate for plasma spray coating, as well as factors which affect the adhesion strength and splat formation of plasma sprayed Si through experiments and simulation. The observations made provide valuable insight for understanding and optimizing the manufacturing processes utilized to deposit strongly adhered coatings onto SiC-based composites. In addition, areas of interest in this field for future study and further investigation are introduced and suggested.



silicon carbide, composite, grit blasting, atmospheric plasma spray, coating adhesion, surface preparation