The US Department of Energy has announced up to US$28 million in funding for a new program aimed at developing high temperature materials that can operate in the high temperature and high stress environments of a gas turbine blade.

Plans are for the ULtrahigh Temperature Impervious Materials Advancing Turbine Efficiency (ULTIMATE) program to improve the efficiency of gas turbines by increasing the temperature capability of the materials used in turbine blades. According to the DoE, the temperature capability of current blade materials has improved steadily over the last few decades to 1100°C, through incremental microstructure and chemistry refinement. However, there exists a new opportunity to discover, develop, and implement novel materials that work at temperatures higher than industry standard superalloys, to increase efficiency and economic gains. The ULTIMATE project will help address this need by developing new high temperature metal alloys and coatings integrated using advanced manufacturing processes. The target is to allow gas turbines blades to operate continuously at 1300°C in a material test environment, or with coatings, with turbine inlet temperatures of 1800°C or higher, the department said.

Gas turbines are used for a variety of applications, from aerospace engines to industrial power generation, and natural gas turbines currently produce an estimated 35% of the electricity generated across the United States.

‘Gas turbines are a major generator of electricity, and have significantly contributed to the cleaner generation of electricity over the past several years,’ said Under Secretary of Energy, Mark W Menezes. ‘Developing new, innovative technologies under the ULTIMATE program will allow us to better utilize gas turbines across multiple power sectors, from electricity generation to transportation and aviation, making all of these industries more efficient.’

‘The development of novel ultrahigh-temperature alloys in conjunction with coatings and advanced manufacturing will help to increase the efficiency of our nation’s power generation and aviation industries,’ added Lane Genatowski, director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy ARPA-E, which is funding the program. ‘Enabling turbines to operate at higher temperatures for longer sustained periods will result in significant reductions of both wasted energy and carbon emissions across many crucial power generation applications.’

This story uses material from the DoE, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.