By Russell Chianelli, The University of Texas at El Paso, Materials Research Technology Institute
An article in the Energy Quarterly section of MRS Bulletin by Angela Saini entitled “High temperature materials increase efficiency of gas power plants” describes how higher temperatures for gas power plants yield higher efficiencies.1 Going to a higher temperature requires better materials for turbine blades. Gas turbines are now reaching 60% efficiency and operating at 1430°C using “superalloys.” Superalloys are preferentially Ni-based with various alloying metals, for example chromium for corrosion resistance and rhenium for high temperature strength. The development of better high temperature alloys is described as a challenge for metallurgists who must develop better synthetic methods that control grain size and their interactions. Life extension is also a critical challenge. It may be that future turbine blade materials will be ceramic in nature. Plenty of opportunity for materials scientists!
- A. Saini, T. Pollock, “High-temperature materials increase efficiency of gas power plants,” Energy Quarterly, MRS Bulletin, 37 (6), 550 (2012).