Iowa State scientists win R&D 100 Award for a discovery that improves jet engines

AMES, Iowa -- Brian Gleeson and Daniel Sordelet of Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have won national recognition for a coating that helps turbine blades hold up to the heat of jet engines.

Their discovery -- coating compositions made from a platinum-modified, nickel and aluminum alloy -- is being recognized with a prestigious R&D 100 Award, said Tim Studt, the editor in chief of R&D magazine. The annual awards have been called the "Oscars of applied science" by the Chicago Tribune.

This is the 27th R&D 100 Award won by Iowa State University researchers.

And it's the first R&D 100 won by Gleeson, a professor of materials science and engineering and the director of the materials and engineering physics program at the Ames Laboratory.

"This is quite an honor to be selected for such a prestigious award," he said. "I also think winning the award is a credit to ISU and the Ames Lab and the excellent support that they provide. This is really a fantastic place to do research."

Sordelet is a scientist at the Ames Laboratory and an adjunct assistant professor of materials science and engineering.

The researchers have been working on the project for about four years. Their work has been supported by more than $1 million from the Office of Naval Research, the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Rolls-Royce jet engine manufacturing company.

It is an Iowa State research project with support from the Ames Laboratory.

Gleeson said the coating compositions they developed allow turbine blades in jet engines to last longer. He and Sordelet are still working on the project. Their coatings are also being tested by jet engine manufacturers.

This year's R&D 100 Awards will be featured in the September issue of R&D 100 magazine. The winners will be recognized at a Chicago banquet in October.