Energy Efficiency Materials Program
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Date: 1/1/94    Record No.: 10060
Contact: Ron Bradley, 615-574-6094; Michael Karnitz, 615-574-5150; Philip Sklad, 615-574-5069

Energy Efficiency Materials Program
Metallurgy and Ceramics originally supported the nuclear program, but the scope has been broadened over time. Ron Bradley also is responsible for the Material Research activities in the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Program.

The MC Division has a budget of $60 million, almost all from DOE. It does both basic and applied research. About 1/3 is for energy efficiency; however, none in solar PV, wind or geothermal.

Materials for Energy Efficiency: similar to the Iron Aluminide development, Nickel Aluminides came out of work on ordered inter metallic alloys, and have the interesting property that their strength increases with temperature! While they have good high temperature properties and oxidation resistance, they have poor sulphadation resistance. They do have applications in industry, such as heat treatment furnace components, and are being evaluated by Cummins under a license for turbocharger rotors.

Ceramics for automotive Gas Turbine--ORNL has managed the DOE effort for 10 years. Silicon Nitride ceramics have met the performance requirements for GT rotors, and the next issue being addressed is cost, and possible use in IC piston (diesel) and stationary GT for industry and utility use. (Allied Signal is already using ceramics for vanes in auxiliary power units for aircraft.)

A new program at DOE has been set up mid '93 jointly by Fossil and Energy Efficiency, to develop advanced turbine systems, with efficiencies increased to 60% for large machines and into the high 40's for smaller ones. (GE's goal for 1998 is a new 250 MW turbine operating at 2550ūC and 60% efficiency.) There are contracts in place with Allison, GE, Westinghouse and Solar Turbine, and possibly one with Siemens. ORNL's role is materials support: coatings (silicon nitride), alloy development, machine characterization, ceramics for vanes, shrouds and uncooled blades.

A utility could become involved in possible application to GT/CC. There hasn't been much interaction with EPRI, though Wate Bakker was testing the Iron Aluminide at Lockheed.

Corrosion in scrubber linings and coal powder abrasion are key issues for coal utilities.
ORNL had done a big review on corrosion 15 years ago, and couldn't offer much at the time. Now, ceramic work tends to be aimed in different direction. Intermetallics a possibility--just learning how to put FeAl coatings down on steel, and NiAl would be ideal, but how to install? Aluminides being developed for gasifiers perform very well in high temperature sulfur environments--some common problems in DOE incinerator work.

Inorganic membrane technology from the isotope separation work is just emerging from secrecy. It has been licensed for some commercial applications, and there could be some intriguing possibilities of using it for hot gas separation in power plants.