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Turbines Make the World Go Around and NETL Aims to Make Them Better
More efficient turbines are needed to keep up with demand and lower consumers’ electricity bills, and that’s why NETL researchers are hard at work on turbine innovations.

Simply put, turbines make the world work. They propel our planes, trains, and ships; allow us to harness the power of wind; and make electricity from abundant fossil energy resources. They help keep lights on, homes warm, and schools, hospitals and industries productive. But at NETL, we believe we can make them even better.

More efficient turbines are needed to keep up with demand and lower consumers’ electricity bills, and that’s why NETL researchers are hard at work on turbine innovations.  Our record of innovation is strong, and the turbine technologies our Lab is advancing will enable some of the cleanest, most economical electricity available.

NETL’s work centers on innovations in two areas: increasing the operating temperatures of turbines and improving the materials they are made of to accommodate the harsh environments that higher temperatures create. We’re also developing new coatings and improving cooling technologies to protect turbine components.  

NETL’s Advanced Turbines Program currently concentrates on three technology areas:

  • Advanced Combustion Turbines for components and combustion systems that can achieve greater than 65 percent combined cycle efficiency and meet the demand of a modern grid.
  • Supercritical CO2 Turbomachinery focusing on components for power cycles that use carbon dioxide in the turbomachinery allowing for higher efficiency and smaller equipment.
  • Pressure Gain Combustion for combustion control strategies and fundamental understanding of this advanced combustion technology, leading to prototyping for turbine integration.

But, we don’t do that work alone. Our experts are collaborating with large gas turbine manufacturers, national laboratories, universities, and small companies to answer questions related to combustion, aerodynamics, heat transfer, and materials.

The Lab supports extramural programs, such as the NETL-managed University Turbine Systems Research (UTSR) program, which investigates scientific and engineering principles that govern the design and operation of gas turbines. UTSR projects are fundamental R&D that complement research at NETL. UTSR enhances university-based turbine engineering capabilities in the United States and is an important to educating the nation’s future scientists and engineers.

NETL also funds turbine research through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program that targets innovative cooling concepts, manufacturing, and thermal barrier coatings. Small businesses that win awards in these programs keep the rights to any technology they develop and are encouraged to commercialize them. That’s one more way NETL stimulates entrepreneurial innovation and increases private sector commercialization of technologies for affordable, environmentally responsible energy production from domestic resources.

Turbines will continue to play a significant role in providing electricity that powers the nation and drives prosperity. Many of these new units will contain technologies developed through NETL’s turbine research programs and its many research partners.


As Acting Director of NETL, Sean I. Plasynski, Ph.D., builds on an extensive background in energy as he leads NETL in its mission to enhance the nation’s energy independence and protect the environment for future generations. For more information about Sean Plasynski's experience, please click here.