The influence of secondary hydrogen and current on the deposition efficiency (DE) and microstructure properties of yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) coatings was evaluated. In order to better understand the influence of the spray process on coating consistency, an YSZ powder, -125+44 µm, was sprayed with nitrogen/hydrogen parameters and a 9MB gun. DE and coating porosity produced using two different spray gun conditions yielding the same input power were compared. Amperage was allowed to vary between 500 A and 560 A and hydrogen was adjusted in order to maintain constant power, while nitrogen flow was kept at a fixed level. Several power conditions, ranging from 32 to 39 kW, were tested. Different injection geometries, i.e., radial with and without a backward component, were also compared. The latter was found to produce higher in-flight temperatures due to a longer residence time of the powder particles in the hotter portion of the plasma. Porosity was based on cross-sectional photomicrographs. In-flight particle temperature and velocity measurements were also carried out with the DPV-2000 for each condition. Test results showed that DE and coating density could vary significantly when a different hydrogen flow rate was used in order to maintain constant input power. On the other hand, DE was found to correlate very well with the temperature of the in-flight particles. Therefore, to obtain more consistent and reproducible DE and microstructures, it is preferable to maintain constant the in-flight particle temperature instead of keeping the input power constant by adjusting the secondary hydrogen flow rate for obtaining more consistent and reproducible DE and microstructures.

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