DOE awards $5M to West Virginia University Research Corporation for R&D of improved power plants

Published on June 08, 2021 by Chris Galford

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Developers with the West Virginia University Research Corporation will work to create a cost-effective and scalable component for thermal power plants to improve their generation capabilities, thanks to a $5 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Specifically, the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management made the selection to advance research and development (R&D) into the component, known as an additively-manufactured graded composite transition joint (AM-GCTJ). Capable of integration into traditional, renewable, and nuclear energy plants alike, the component theoretically works by joining metals within the plant parts to improve their endurance in the face of extreme weather changes.

This could make them better able to withstand the stresses of warm startups, fast-load ramping, and frequent shutdowns that come with thermal power plant operations. It would also eliminate problems commonly experienced with traditional, dissimilar metal welds — chiefly because they can fail prematurely under such pressures. In doing so, the component may also help these plants generate more flexible, low-carbon power.

For DOE, which will manage this project, it will support the larger High Performance Materials program. In addition to DOE funding, the West Virginia University Research Corporation-led effort also involves more than $1.25 million of investments.