Batch-wise Improvement in Reduced Design Space using a Holistic Optimization Technique (BIRDSHOT)

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College Station, Texas
Project Term:
04/26/2021 - 04/25/2023

Critical Need:

Gas turbines produce approximately 35% of the total electricity generation in the U.S. Improving their efficiency is important for reducing energy usage and carbon emissions. Similarly, higher efficiency aviation and other industrial turbines would improve the economics and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in these sectors. Gas turbine efficiency largely depends on the gas temperature at the inlet; the higher the temperature, the higher the efficiency. Gas turbine operational temperature is currently limited by its component materials, particularly those in the path of the hot gas such as turbine blades, vanes, nozzles, and shrouds. Turbine blades experience the greatest operational burden because they must concurrently withstand the highest temperatures and stresses. Currently, turbine blades are made of single crystal nickel (Ni)- or cobalt (Co)-based superalloys. After many years of refinements, their development has plateaued. There is a need to discover, develop, and implement novel materials that work at temperatures significantly higher than that of the Ni or Co superalloys if further efficiency gains are to be realized.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Increasing the efficiency of power generation and air transportation can only be achieved by increasing the temperature at which generation/propulsion turbines operate. The emerging Refractory High Entropy Alloys (RHEAs) can enable much higher operating temperatures than the state-of-the-art. Identifying the alloys' chemistry is difficult due to the vastness of the RHEA chemical space. BIRDSHOT, however, proposes an interdisciplinary framework combining physics-based modeling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence as well as high-throughput synthesis and characterization platforms to explore the RHEA space in a parallel fashion. BIRDSHOT is capable of optimally guiding the discovery campaign while simultaneously considering multiple objectives and constraints. BIRDSHOT aims to discover alloys that can potentially withstand the extreme environments in a gas turbine, retain compatibility with protective coatings, and are amenable to additive manufacturing, resulting in significant energy savings in power generation and transportation.

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:
Dr. Raymundo Arroyave
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


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