Hydropower generation from the Himalayan rivers in India faces challenge in the form of silt-laden water which can erode the turbine blades and reduce turbine life. To address this issue, polyurethane coatings reinforced with boron carbide (B4C) or silicon carbide (SiC) nanoparticles on 16Cr-5Ni martensitic stainless steel substrate were used in the present investigation to improve erosion wear resistance in silt erosion conditions. Slurry erosive wear tests were carried out based on ASTM G-73 protocol at various test conditions of impact velocity, impingement angle, and erodent particle size as well as slurry concentrations as determined by the implementation of Taguchi design of experiments. Analysis of variance studies of erosion rate indicated that nanoparticle content in PU material is the single most important parameter, and interaction of impact velocity and impingement angle was also proved to be significant. The coatings with B4C nanoparticles had higher wear resistances than those with SiC nanoparticles due to higher hardness of the former. An interesting finding from the results is that there is an optimum amount of nanoparticles at which mass removal is the minimum. This observation has been explained in terms of surface characteristics of coatings as brought out by a combination of measurements including SEM images as well as roughness measurement. © 2015, ASM International.