Fossil energy transformational power technologies like ultra-supercritical steam plants and supercritical carbon-dioxide power have the potential to increase efficiencies and bolster clean coal efforts because they operate at higher temperatures and pressures. However, this leads to harsher and more corrosive conditions compared to traditional power plants. Furthermore, today’s current fleet of fossil power plants are increasingly being subjected to cycling conditions due to the penetration of renewable energy sources onto the electricity grid. These plants were designed for baseload operations, and the changing of plant temperature and pressures during cycling adds stress to the materials of construction, which may cause premature failure of components in service. Thus, the materials of construction are being subjected to more “extreme” operating environments. Accelerating the development of improved steels, superalloys and other advanced alloys is of paramount importance in deploying materials solutions to address materials challenges associated with both the existing fleet and future power systems.
eXtremeMAT is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Fossil Energy (FE) project addressing these challenges by harnessing the unparalleled computational and experimental materials science expertise and capabilities within the DOE national laboratory complex into an integrated, mission-focused team aimed at improving heat-resistant alloys and improving models to predict long-term materials performance in existing and future fossil energy power systems. The eXtremeMAT team consists of NETL and partner laboratories, Ames Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The eXtremeMAT team met Oct. 18, 2018, in Columbus, OH to review research plans and progress. Joining the meeting were representatives from alloy producers, original equipment manufacturers, end users and other DOE and government agencies to learn about and provide feedback on the project.
The eXtremeMAT team will use computational modeling with specific, targeted experimentation to accelerate the design of new heat-resistant alloys for existing and advanced fossil energy power cycles by understanding the performance of materials in current fossil energy cycles. In this way, improvements can be made to the existing power cycle by developing precise physics-based models of deformation and failure over many time- and length-scales. Using these models, the relationship between failure and deformation to inform lifetime assessments in harsh fossil fuel power system environments can be understood. Concurrent with model development, collecting property data for alloys in existing plants, designing data repositories and data handling platforms for laboratory collaboration, building physics-based deformation and failure models, and benchmarking the simulation tools against real power plant data ensures that new affordable, heat-resistant materials can be designed, qualified and manufactured quickly and efficiently.
eXtremeMAT will result in toolsets that address the gaps in current physics-based materials modeling, data analytics and machine learning to enable:
Success in the eXtremeMAT program will enable alloys to be fully optimized for current and future power generation cycles in less time. These high-performance materials will enable a variety of advanced energy systems that will increase efficiency, lower cost and reduce emissions from fossil-fired power cycles, ensuring affordable and reliable energy for the nation well into the future