The Environmental Durability Branch, Materials Div., NASA Glenn Research Center, is charged to bring research materials to a higher level of technology readiness for use in advanced propulsion and power systems. Developing strategies to enhance and predict component durability in gas turbine engine requires a fundamental understanding of the high-temperature degradation mechanisms in advanced materials. This requires that materials are studied under conditions similar to those under which they will operate. NASA's high-pressure burner rig (HPBR) facility offers a way to simulate the harsh environments to which these materials will be exposed. For example, HPBR test data enabled researchers to make major contributions to the knowledge base of advanced materials such as the durability of silicon-base monolithic and composite ceramics. Researchers also studied important issues such as the effects of water vapor and scale volatility, providing vital mechanistic and performance information. In addition, collaborations with government and industry have provided insight into the development of innovative component concepts and advanced sensor technologies.
HPBR provides a relatively inexpensive, yet sophisticated way to study high-temperature oxidation of advanced materials. The facility can operate under both fuel-lean and fuel-rich gas mixtures, using a fume incinerator to eliminate any harmful byproduct emissions (carbon monoxide, or CO, and hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, for example) of rich-burn operation. Test samples are easily accessible for ongoing inspection and documentation of material weight change and thickness, cracking, and other metrics. Temperature measurement can be performed via thermocouples and optical pyrometry, and quartz windows allow observation and videotaping.