A thermal barrier coating (TBC) is used for protecting hot gas path parts, and is useful for allowing the turbine inlet gas temperature to be increased. In order to quantitatively evaluate the performance of TBCs, the thermal conductivity of TBCs on the combustor of a gas turbine were measured. The results indicate that the thermal conductivity of age-deteriorated TBCs were higher than that of the as-sprayed TBC. This finding suggested that the thermal barrier performance of the TBC had deteriorated. When the thermal barrier performance of a TBC deteriorates, the temperature of the metal substrate rises, shortening the service life of hot gas path components. Accordingly, using experimental TBCs, laboratory-scale studies were performed to identify the causes of the deterioration of thermal barrier performance in TBCs. Six types of TBCs, prepared from six grades of plasma spray powder of yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ), were tested. Average powder size, powder configuration, and percentage of yttria were the parameters of plasma spray powder taken to measure the thermophysical properties and carry out microstructural analyses on the as-sprayed TBCs and heat-treated TBCs.

The results of the thermophysical property measurements indicate that the thermal barrier performance of heat-treated TBCs were two to three times greater than that of the as-sprayed TBCs. The results of the microstructural analyses revealed that the deterioration in performance was caused by changes occurring in the crystalline structure and the reduction of the non-contact area as in TBCs. The changes in thermal conductivity of TBCs were expressed as coefficients of porosity, crystalline structure, and heating time and temperature.

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