Development of Niobium-Based Alloys for Turbine Applications

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Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Project Term:
05/03/2021 - 06/30/2024

Technology Description:

Current Ni-based alloys used in turbine blade applications are operating at 1100°C, which is approximately 90% of their melting temperatures. Refractory alloys, such as niobium (Nb) alloys, can withstand higher temperatures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will use computational modeling tools and advanced characterization to develop two classes of Nb alloys for use in a tri-layered turbine system consisting of a core high strength Nb-alloy layer, an intermediate layer consisting of a more oxidation resistant Nb alloy compatible with a core layer, and an external thermal barrier/coating such as a commercially available silicide coating designed to provide oxidation resistance. The alloys will be able to continuously operate at 1300°C with coatings. This capability will enable gas turbine inlets of 1800°C or higher.

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Coal-fired and nuclear-powered plant electricity generation is uneconomical, unsafe, outdated, and/or contributes to significant CO2 emissions.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. Govindarajan Muralidharan
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


University of Kentucky

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