Designing Novel Multicomponent Niobium Alloys for High Temperature: Integrated Design, Rapid Processing & Validation Approach

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Salt Lake City, Utah
Project Term:
05/01/2021 - 04/30/2024

Technology Description:

The University of Utah will use physical metallurgy principles and artificial intelligence to identify the chemistry of new niobium (Nb)-based refractory alloys to ensure they have excellent high-temperature properties without being brittle at low temperatures. The artificial intelligence approach will discover promising compositions for the new alloys based on existing knowledge of simple alloys. The computational materials models will be used to predict the proper processing conditions for the material chemistries. This two-step process can down-select the alloy compositions and manufacturing conditions from millions of possibilities, greatly reducing the time and cost for the search of new materials. The team will use advanced microscopy techniques to characterize the sample microstructures. Successful chemistries will be selected for scale-up experiments. If successful, the project will identify the alloy compositions and processing conditions to potentially mass produce turbine blades that can operate at temperatures significantly higher than the current state of the art.

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Coal-fired and nuclear-powered plant electricity generation is uneconomical, unsafe, outdated, and/or contributes to significant CO2 emissions.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