Plasma Forming Laboratory

Plasma Forming Laboratory

This lab makes use of plasma-based techniques to synthesize:

•   Near Net Shape Structures by Rapid Prototyping
•   Bulk Nanostructured Components
•   Advanced Ceramic and Metallic Nanocomposites
•   Multilayered Functional Coatings
•   Synthesis of Nanostructured Composite Powders

Tools/Inventory

Plasma Torch

The heart of the APS system is the plasma torch, which generates the high-temperature plasma flame. This torch typically utilizes a gas, often argon, as the primary carrier, which is ionized and heated to extremely high temperatures through an electric arc. The resulting plasma flame can reach temperatures exceeding 15,000 degrees Celsius.

Powder Feed System

Powder feeders are responsible for introducing the coating material, usually in the form of fine powder, into the plasma flame. The powder is injected into the plasma stream, where it rapidly melts and is propelled towards the substrate.

Substrate Handling System

The substrate, which can vary from metals and ceramics to polymers, is positioned in the coating chamber. Precise control over the substrate's movement is crucial for achieving uniform coating thickness and adherence.

Control System

An advanced control system is essential for regulating various parameters, such as plasma gas flow, powder feed rate, and substrate movement. This ensures the consistency and quality of the coating.

Coating Materials

Atmospheric plasma spray is compatible with various coating materials, including ceramics, metals, alloys, and composites. This flexibility makes it suitable for diverse applications, from enhancing wear resistance to providing thermal insulation.
Advantages
Versatility : APS can be applied to various substrates, allowing for the coating of complex shapes and intricate surfaces.
High Deposition Rates: The process enables rapid coating deposition, making it time-efficient for large-scale applications.
Diverse Material Compatibility: The technology accommodates a broad spectrum of coating materials, expanding its applicability across different industries.
Applications:
Aerospace: Protective coatings for turbine blades, thermal barrier coatings for engine components.
Energy: Coatings for power generation equipment, such as boiler tubes and gas turbine components. Automotive: Wear-resistant coatings for engine components and cylinders

In-Flight Particle Diagnostics

Using advanced In-flight particle diagnostic techniques, such as, DPV-2000 and Accuraspray, this lab is able to measure the precise temperature and velocity of the particles in the spray plume to tailor desired coating characteristics.

Ongoing Research Projects

Radiation Shielding Plasma Sprayed Coatings Heads to International Space Station for MISSE-17 Experiments:

Plasma Forming Laboratory (PFL) at Florida International University (FIU) in collaboration with NASA has developed a novel multi-functional coating to protect the lunar structural components synergistically against abrasion, erosion, and radiation for Artemis mission . The titanium-boron nitride composite coatings were prepared using atmospheric plasma spray technique from composite powders. The coatings were subjected to extensive microstructural and phase characterizations along with tribological study with lunar mare simulant JSC-1A, which shows tremendous improvement in wear performance. The coatings subjected to neutron radiation shielding experiments at NASA Langley research center exhibited significant improvement in neutron attenuation capacity compared to their substrate counter parts. They selected to undergo radiation exposure on the International Space Station as a part of MISSE-17 (Materials International Space Station Experiment).

 

The coatings with excellent radiation shielding results after preliminary shielding tests from Langley Research Center are expected to be launched to the International Space Station as a
part of MISSE-17[7] (Materials International Space Station Experiment) in March 2023. The coatings will be mounted on a platform with other testing samples to be exposed to the solar and intergalactic cosmic radiation. After six months, a crew of astronauts will take the material back to Earth for analysis. Mean time NASA and FIU will be testing the coatings against harsh erosive environment and thermal, vacuum cycles. The findings from this study will help in the development and construction of materials and systems that will be used in Human Landing Systems (HLS) in future lunar explorations including Artemis missions.