Rapid Design and Manufacturing of High-Performance Materials for Turbine Blades Applications above 1300°Celsius

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Morgantown, West Virginia
Project Term:
03/15/2021 - 06/14/2023

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:

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will develop lightweight, cost-effective, precipitation-strengthened refractory high entropy alloys (RHEAs) for additive manufacturing. The advantage is an alloy with all phases in thermodynamic equilibrium, promoting high microstructural stability. The alloys will be comprised of a ductile high entropy solid solution matrix strengthened by fine precipitates of the high entropy carbides. NETL will use high throughput, multi-scale computer modeling, and machine learning to identify novel alloys within the large compositional space. The team will integrate computational and experimental additive manufacturing (AM) research into the alloy design effort with the aim of producing sound articles with stable and desirable microstructures and providing feedback to the alloy design. Electron beam melting and/or laser beam powder bed AM will be used to manufacture materials. At completion, the project will demonstrate a disruptive alloy and technology for potentially manufacturing turbine blades for service at temperatures greater than 1300 °C.

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. David Alman
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Carnegie Mellon University

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