Concurrent Design of a Multimaterial Niobium Alloy System for Next-generation Turbine Applications

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Evanston, Illinois
Project Term:
08/30/2021 - 09/01/2023

Technology Description:

QuesTek Innovations will apply computational materials design, additive manufacturing (AM), coating technology, and turbine design/manufacturing to develop a comprehensive solution for a next-generation turbine blade alloy and coating system capable of sustained operation at 1300°C. QuesTek will design a niobium (Nb)-based multimaterial alloy system consisting of a ductile, precipitation-strengthened, creep (deformation)-resistant alloy for the turbine “core” combined with an oxidation-resistant, bond coat-compatible Nb alloy for the “case.” AM techniques, such as directed energy deposition, will enable fabrication of a turbine blade structure with composition and microstructure tailored to resolve the inherent conflict between mechanical performance and oxidation resistance. A novel coating system with thermal and chemical properties compatible with the underlying alloy will be developed to provide environmental and thermal protection.

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Coal-fired and nuclear-powered plant electricity generation is uneconomical, unsafe, outdated, and/or contributes to significant CO2 emissions.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. Greg Olson
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