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Performance alloys
Report Shows Adjacent Market Opportunities for DOE’s High Performance Materials Program

A new NETL report explores opportunities to leverage high-performance alloy (HPA) research supported by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) beyond coal-fired power plants and expand into industrial gas turbines as well as adjacent markets that require similar materials, such as the aerospace, industrial and chemical processing and automotive industries.

HPAs are metals that display superior characteristics in high temperature and corrosive environments. Expensive to develop and produce, HPAs enable power plant processes to run at higher temperatures and pressures, improving performance and efficiency. These materials are critical to plant reliability under cyclic operation and have long been a key area of research for NETL and its partners.

According to the report, the global HPA market generated more than $4 billion revenue in 2016, which is expected to climb to $7.6 billion in 2023. The largest application of HPAs is aerospace, followed by industrial gas turbines, industrial and chemical processing, and automotive. Together, these industries make up 92.5 percent of the current HPA market.

As market demand continues to grow, NETL is in a prime position to contribute to the improvement of these materials. Research activities to enhance current HPAs include convening stakeholders to define challenges and opportunities that bridge supply chains and end-use applications as well as exchange information to accelerate mutually beneficial objectives.  

“As the report details, the high temperature materials supply chain for fossil energy plays a strong role serving several substantial adjacent industry segments,” Briggs White, NETL Technology Manager for FE’s High Performance Materials program. “The material requirements for gas turbines and aerospace applications often overlap with those for advanced coal power plants, offering an opportunity for technology transfer and commercialization. This provides additional revenue streams to the industrial supply chain and generates a market pull on the government-funded R&D which advances the pre-competitive innovative concepts and technologies.”

The opportunity for FE to expand its research program into the aerospace, industrial gas turbines, chemical processing, or automotive markets lies in cost reduction, property enhancements, and fabrication flexibility of existing alloys. Cost reduction of components requiring HPAs is likely to come primarily from computational modeling, especially process modeling, and the use of dissimilar metal welds to reduce the volume of expensive HPAs.

Effective modeling will require the extensive mechanical testing and characterization, especially under service conditions for prolonged periods of time. Property enhancements can also be pursued using modeling, in addition to expanded research in the use of coatings for thermal and corrosion protection. Fabrication flexibility will include expanded use of additive manufacturing along with improved welding techniques. All of these research areas will yield results that are directly applicable to the adjacent markets reviewed.

The full report can be viewed here.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratory that produces technological solutions for America’s energy challenges. From developing creative innovations and efficient energy systems that make coal more competitive, to advancing technologies that enhance oil and natural gas extraction and transmission processes, NETL research is providing breakthroughs and discoveries that support domestic energy initiatives, stimulate a growing economy, and improve the health, safety, and security of all Americans. Highly skilled men and women at NETL’s sites in Albany, Oregon; Anchorage, Alaska; Houston, Texas; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania conduct a broad range of research activities that support DOE’s mission to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States.