A High-Precision, High-Resolution Turbine Blade Inspection System

Period of Performance: 10/18/2013 - 04/17/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Creare, Inc.
16 Great Hollow Road Array
Hanover, NH 03755
Principal Investigator


Modern jet engine turbine blades are single-crystal superalloy structures with excellent resistance to high-temperature creep, allowing tight tolerances to be maintained over the blade s life. However, turbine blades have complicated features that can promote the growth of discrete crystal grains that can lower the part s creep resistance and may lead to catastrophic engine failure. Current inspection practice requires destroying and analyzing sample parts a time consuming and expensive process that provides only batch-level information and requires the destruction of a high-value part. Currently, there are no means to non-destructively detect and characterize recrystallized defects of this size unless they happen to form on exterior surfaces. Creare proposes to develop a non-destructive inspection approach that will enable rapid inspection of every turbine blade. Our Turbine Blade Inspection System (TBIS) will be capable of detecting and characterizing recrystallized grains of relevant dimensions. The TBIS will provide turbine blade manufacturers with a means for quick and inexpensive inspection of all parts, reducing overall costs while improving turbine reliability. During the Phase I project, we will demonstrate the validity of our approach using benchtop testing and analytical models. During Phase II, we will develop a prototype TBIS for testing of large-scale turbine blade samples.