Long-term behaviour of Nb and Cr nitrides nanostructured coatings under steam at 650 °C
There is an increasing demand for steam power plants to operate in super-critical conditions i.e. temperatures in excess of 600 °C. Under these conditions creep resistant ferritic steels oxidize and therefore require coatings in order to last. Physical vapor deposition and especially High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering deposited CrN/NbN nano-scale multilayer coatings with a 2.45 Cr/Nb ratio showed excellent performance when exposed to 650 °C in pure steam environment up to 2000 h. However the role of Nb in offering protection is unclear. In order to study the long term behaviour of this type of coatings as well as to determine the influence of Nb on their oxidation resistance, a CrN/NbN coating with a 1.16 Cr/Nb ratio was studied for 12,650 h. The coating is hard, well adhered and resistant to environmental corrosion, which are properties required in particular for coatings to be applied on turbine blades. The coating also protects P92 from steam oxidation at 650 °C, however coating growth defects influence significantly the oxidation resistance. The long-time exposure allowed to study the protection/degradation mechanisms provided by this type of ceramic coatings. It was found that oxide nodules grow due to the presence of coating defect originated from substrate defects. Moreover, the higher Nb CrN/NbN coating slowly oxidizes, consuming the coating to a large extent after 12,650 h. As a result, protective oxides containing Cr and Nb are developed, remaining well attached to the substrate for at least the test duration, and preventing further substrate oxidation by steam. Interestingly, thin voids present in the as deposited coating self-heal by forming Cr rich oxides, which block steam to reach the substrate.