ULTIMATE Refractory Alloy Innovations for Superior Efficiency (RAISE)

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Program:
ULTIMATE
Award:
$1,591,151
Location:
Fairfield,
Connecticut
Status:
ACTIVE
Project Term:
05/12/2021 - 11/11/2022

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:

GE Research has proposed transformational material solutions to potentially enable a gas turbine blade alloy-coating system capable of operating at a turbine inlet temperature of 1800 °C for more than 30,000 hours. GE aims to develop a (1) niobium (Nb)-based alloy that can operate at 1300 °C (2372 °F), (2) coating system consisting of a novel oxidation resistant bond coat compatible with the new Nb-based alloy, and (3) thermal barrier coating for improved durability that can operate at 1700 °C (3092 °F) and a scalable manufacturing process for producing internally cooled gas turbine blades with the new alloy. Application of the new technologies to existing combined cycle gas turbines in the U.S. could increase the thermal efficiency by approximately 7%. If the benefit could be applied to the entire installed base of combined cycle gas generation across the country, it would yield $100 billion of net present value and reduce CO2 emissions by 23 million metric tons (equivalent to emissions from 5 million cars).

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.

Security:

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.

Environment:

Improving gas turbine efficiency can significantly reduce carbon emissions from air travel, which represents 2% of all global carbon emissions.

Economy:

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.

Contact

ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Philseok Kim
Project Contact:
Dr. Akane Suzuki
Press and General Inquiries Email:
ARPA-E-Comms@hq.doe.gov
Project Contact Email:
suzukia@ge.com

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Release Date:
11/18/2020