High-temperature protective coatings for space application

At operating temperatures of more than 1700 °C, researchers face major challenges in developing components for aerospace applications. Dr. Christian Reimann and Kevin Schuck from Fraunhofer IISB found a way to provide such components with cost-effective ultra-high temperature resistant protective coatings. With their idea, the young scientists won the 3rd place in the DLR Challenge of the “INNOspace Masters” 2020.

© Fraunhofer IISB / Anja Grabinger
Graphite plate covered with a high-temperature protective layer.
© Fraunhofer IISB / Anja Grabinger
Dr. Christian Reimann and Kevin Schuck handing over the certificates during the “INNOspace Masters” 2020.

Such high heat generation is particularly problematic in engines, drives and thermal protection structures for aerospace. In common carbon fiber composite components active oxidation and inevitable destruction of the materials by particle ablation and spalling occurs. As a result, current use is limited to lower temperature applications and engines and propulsion systems do not reach their potential.

Mr. Reimann, Mr. Schuck, please tell us more about your approach.

At the heart of our approach is the spray coating technology developed at Fraunhofer IISB, which helps to provide components for aerospace applications with ultra-high temperature resistant protective coatings. Through the symbiosis of our idea and the spray coating technology developed at the institute, it is now possible to provide the affected carbon fiber composite components with the temperature-resistant oxidation protection coating. This results in engines and drives being able to operate at higher temperatures and achieve better efficiency.

What changed for you after the award?

The “INNOspace Masters” competition initiated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) annually honors innovative ideas and concepts for the transfer of technologies, services and applications from space to other industries and vice versa. The award gave us, as researchers, access to global science networks. We also received funding to carry out our two-year “HOSSA” research project. This involves bringing our idea for hightemperature protective coatings into practical application together with companies from the aerospace industry.

From theory to practice. How far along are you with your research project?

After the project documents have been reviewed by DLR, we intend to start our project at the beginning of June 2021. By directly involving an industrial advisory board of suppliers and users from the aerospace industry, we are very confident that there will be further follow-up projects and technology exploitation. Another key point is to generate as many application scenarios as possible for the novel technology. Our expertise in semiconductor material production and processing helped to already succeed in getting companies from this sector interested in our approach and in conducting the first licensing negotiations.

Christian Reimann studied Mineralogy at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and at the University of Cologne. He has been a research associate at Fraunhofer IISB since 2005 and received his PhD from Friedrich-Alexander-University ErlangenNuremberg 2010. In the same year, he became group leader and deputy head of the Materials department at Fraunhofer IISB in 2016. Kevin Schuck successfully completed his studies at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg in the field of Materials Science and Materials Engineering in 2019. After graduating his Master, he has been a research assistant at Fraunhofer IISB in the Materials department, working on protective coatings for high-temperature applications.

Kevin Schuck successfully completed his studies at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg in the field of Materials Science and Materials Engineering in 2019. After graduating his Master, he has been a research assistant at Fraunhofer IISB in the Materials department, working on protective coatings for high-temperature applications.