Modern superalloys have enabled High Pressure Turbine (HPT) blades in Gas Turbine Engines (GTE) to operate at higher temperatures. Unfortunately the complexity of these materials can make it difficult to understand the failure mechanisms of these blades. HPT blades made of the nickel based superalloy Mar-M002 have been found to suffer from Stress Assisted Grain Boundary Oxidation (SAGBO) cracking. HPT blades removed from an RB211-24C aero-derivative industrial GTE were sectioned and the cracks and microstructure were studied using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS). No cracks were found on the external surface of the blade which had been coated with an oxidation resistant material. Surface irregularities were found along the walls of the inner cooling channels throughout the entire blade. Larger SAGBO cracks were observed to be near the lower 25% span of the blade and had initiated from the surfaces of the cooling channels. SEM/EDS analysis showed that these cracks had large amounts of alumina and Hafnium-rich particles within them. It is evident that these cracks occurred in locations where the combination of high stress and high temperature led to higher rates of oxygen diffusion and subsequent oxidation of grain boundary carbides. Hafnium Carbide precipitates along the grain boundaries expanded as they converted into Hafnium Oxide, thus further increasing the stress. It is envisaged that this increase in stress along the grain boundary has caused the cracks to initiate and coalesce. Based on this observation, it is believed that the inner cooling channels of these HPT blades could benefit from the application of an oxidation resistant coating in order to prevent or delay the formation of these cracks.

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