Additive Manufacturing of Oxidation-Resistant Gradient Refractory Composites

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Cambridge, Massachusetts
Project Term:
04/05/2021 - 07/04/2024

Technology Description:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology will develop a new additive manufacturing (AM) process, capable of producing refractory composite materials for use in high-temperature, oxidation-resistant turbine blades and other demanding energy-conversion applications. The AM process will incorporate hardware and software to establish uniform, high-quality refractory materials that are traditionally prone to micro-cracking and oxidation during AM, thereby establishing the required mechanical properties and oxidation resistance of a target alloy. The project will also incorporate a high-throughput approach, enabled by the local definition of material composition, to span potential alloy compositions that meet the demanding material requirements of the program. In synergy with materials development and evaluation, the team’s AM process and system will ultimately enable digital production of representative turbine blade geometries with low surface roughness and high-precision, complex internal cooling channels.

Potential Impact:

Combining development of new ultrahigh temperature materials with compatible coatings and manufacturing technologies has the potential to increase gas turbine efficiency up to 7%, which will significantly reduce wasted energy and carbon emissions.


Coal-fired and nuclear-powered plant electricity generation is uneconomical, unsafe, outdated, and/or contributes to significant CO2 emissions. Increasing gas turbine efficiency is critical to ensuring that plants can effectively deploy their capacity to the grid, increasing energy security.


Improving gas turbine efficiency can significantly reduce carbon emissions from air travel, which represents 2% of all global carbon emissions.


By 2050, a 7% efficiency improvement in the natural gas turbines used for U.S. electricity generation could save up to 15-16 quads of energy; in civilian aircraft turbines, 3-4 quads of energy could be saved for U.S. air travel.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Philseok Kim
Project Contact:
Prof. A. John Hart
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