Success Story

BlackGold Nanocoating Could Save Airlines Millions

An NETL-inspired partnership that combined MDS Coating Technology Corporation’s BlackGold® coating innovation with the in-the-trenches knowledge of end users like Delta Airlines, and the materials performance expertise resident at NETL, has resulted in a new nanotechnology breakthrough in the marketplace.

During aircraft operation, gas turbine engines are continuously ingesting erosive media, such as dirt, sand, rain and sea water, and corrosive agents that are suspended in the air. These particles reach very high speeds in the gas flow through the engine, damaging and eroding the parts that they strike, and in particular the fast moving blades in the compressor section. The deterioration of the blades leads to expensive repairs, reduced performance, increased fuel consumption, and unscheduled engine downtime. The engineered nanostructure of the BlackGold® coating makes it highly resistant to erosion and when applied to compressor airfoil surfaces can significantly reduce material loss. This leads to improved engine performance, resulting in significant reductions in fuel costs, spare parts costs, and reduced maintenance.

MDS Coating Technologies Corporation developed the composition of the BlackGold® coating technology. Delta Airlines evaluated this coating on high pressure compressor rotor blades in its engine fleet. Dr. Cynthia Powell and Dr. David Alman of the National Energy Technology Laboratory supported and contributed to this project by providing testing to optimize process variables and obtaining FAA certification. As a result of this collaboration, these three organizations helped bring this new nanocoating technology to market for airfoils in gas turbines.

The Federal Aviation Administration-approved nanocoating has the potential to save the U.S. commercial aviation industry up to 100 million gallons of fuel annually and could provide a cost savings greater than $300 million per year at today’s jet fuel prices.