DOE awards $10M to two projects researching extreme environment materials

Published on May 28, 2020 by Chris Galford

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Together with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy has chosen two projects to receive approximately $10 million in funding to progress research and development of more reliable coal components.

Provided under a funding opportunity announcement, the objective of this cost-shared investment is to bolster the fossil fleet and materials supply chain through more robust mechanisms and components. In this case, that includes dealing with thermal fatigue and corrosion, which are major factors in the wear and tear of steam cycle components operated under cyclic load conditions.

Across two projects, General Electric Company, GE Research will develop better material joint reliability and surface technologies. The first aims to improve the durability of dissimilar metal welds used in boiler and heat recovery steam applications, potentially providing both reduced maintenance costs and enhanced cycling operations at coal plants. To do so, GE is creating a durable, friction-welded dissimilar-metal spool with a nanostructured ferritic alloy and an oxidation protective coating across the joint. These will be retrofittable in the existing steam fleet and should provide greater numbers of cold starts and better cycling behavior in the steam fleet, hopefully reducing unplanned outages along the way. This project will be undertaken alongside Edison Welding Institute and Manufacturing Technology, Inc.

The second project is focused on developing cost-effective weld overlay compositions for boiler tubing and multi-layered coatings that provide improvements to both erosion resistance and oxidation resistance in high-temperature steam used with high-pressure turbine blades. This could help reduce component cost, increase performance, and space outages further apart.

While the FOA was sponsored by FE’s High Performance Materials Program, NETL will manage both projects. DOE will provide nearly $5 million to each project, leaving the remaining $1.24 million cost for each to be covered by the company.