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Concept: Gas turbine


Decades of research has been focused on improving the high-temperature properties of nickel-based superalloys, an essential class of materials used in the hot section of jet turbine engines, allowing increased engine efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. Here we introduce a new ‘phase-transformation strengthening’ mechanism that resists high-temperature creep deformation in nickel-based superalloys, where specific alloying elements inhibit the deleterious deformation mode of nanotwinning at temperatures above 700 °C. Ultra-high-resolution structure and composition analysis via scanning transmission electron microscopy, combined with density functional theory calculations, reveals that a superalloy with higher concentrations of the elements titanium, tantalum and niobium encourage a shear-induced solid-state transformation from the γ' to η phase along stacking faults in γ' precipitates, which would normally be the precursors of deformation twins. This nanoscale η phase creates a low-energy structure that inhibits thickening of stacking faults into twins, leading to significant improvement in creep properties.

Concepts: Electron, Iron, Metallurgy, Titanium, Jet engine, Turbine, Engine, Gas turbine


Aircraft engines emit particulate matter (PM) that affects the air quality in the vicinity of airports and contributes to climate change. Non-volatile PM (nvPM) emissions from aircraft turbine engines depend on fuel aromatic content, which varies globally by several percent. It is uncertain how this variability will affect future nvPM emission regulations and emission inventories. Here we present black carbon (BC) mass and nvPM number emission indices (EIs) as a function of fuel aromatic content and thrust for an in-production aircraft gas turbine engine. The aromatics content was varied from 17.8 % (v/v) in the neat fuel (Jet A-1) to up to 23.6 % (v/v) by injecting two aromatic solvents into the engine fuel supply line. Fuel normalized BC mass and nvPM number EIs increased by up to 60% with increasing fuel aromatics content and decreasing engine thrust. The EIs also increased when fuel naphthalenes were changed from 0.78 % (v/v) to 1.18 % (v/v) while keeping the total aromatics constant. The EIs correlated best with fuel hydrogen mass content, leading to a simple model that could be used for correcting fuel effects in emission inventories and in future aircraft engine nvPM emission standards.

Concepts: Air pollution, Gas compressor, Jet engine, Turbine, Engine, Gas turbine, Turboprop, Aircraft engine


Insight into the mechanical behaviour of nanomaterials under the extreme condition of very high deformation rates and to very large strains is needed to provide improved understanding for the development of new protective materials. Applications include protection against bullets for body armour, micrometeorites for satellites, and high-speed particle impact for jet engine turbine blades. Here we use a microscopic ballistic test to report the responses of periodic glassy-rubbery layered block-copolymer nanostructures to impact from hypervelocity micron-sized silica spheres. Entire deformation fields are experimentally visualized at an exceptionally high resolution (below 10 nm) and we discover how the microstructure dissipates the impact energy via layer kinking, layer compression, extreme chain conformational flattening, domain fragmentation and segmental mixing to form a liquid phase. Orientation-dependent experiments show that the dissipation can be enhanced by 30% by proper orientation of the layers.

Concepts: Nanomaterials, Layer, Materials science, OSI model, Jet engine, Turbine, Engine, Gas turbine


The mechanical behaviour of thermal barrier coatings in operation holds the key to understanding durability of jet engine turbine blades. Here we report the results from experiments that monitor strains in the layers of a coating subjected to thermal gradients and mechanical loads representing extreme engine environments. Hollow cylindrical specimens, with electron beam physical vapour deposited coatings, were tested with internal cooling and external heating under various controlled conditions. High-energy synchrotron X-ray measurements captured the in situ strain response through the depth of each layer, revealing the link between these conditions and the evolution of local strains. Results of this study demonstrate that variations in these conditions create corresponding trends in depth-resolved strains with the largest effects displayed at or near the interface with the bond coat. With larger temperature drops across the coating, significant strain gradients are seen, which can contribute to failure modes occurring within the layer adjacent to the interface.

Concepts: Electron, Diffraction, X-ray, X-ray crystallography, Gas compressor, Jet engine, Turbine, Gas turbine


Finding ways to manage the waste from the expected high number of wind turbine blades in need of disposal is crucial to harvest wind energy in a truly sustainable manner. Landfilling is the most cost-effective disposal method in the United States, but it imposes significant environmental impacts. Thermal, mechanical, and chemical processes allow for some energy and/or material recovery, but they also carry potential negative externalities. This article explores the main economic and environmental issues with various wind turbine blade disposal methods. We argue for the necessity of policy intervention that encourages industry to develop better technologies to make wind turbine blade disposal sustainable, both environmentally and economically. We present some of the technological initiatives being researched, such as the use of bio-derived resins and thermoplastic composites in the manufacturing process of the blades.

Concepts: Energy, Renewable energy, Innovation, Turbine, Gas turbine, Windmill, Éolienne Bollée


Ceramic matrix composites are the emerging material of choice for structures that will see temperatures above ~1,500 °C in hostile environments, as for example in next-generation gas turbines and hypersonic-flight applications. The safe operation of applications depends on how small cracks forming inside the material are restrained by its microstructure. As with natural tissue such as bone and seashells, the tailored microstructural complexity of ceramic matrix composites imparts them with mechanical toughness, which is essential to avoiding failure. Yet gathering three-dimensional observations of damage evolution in extreme environments has been a challenge. Using synchrotron X-ray computed microtomography, we have fully resolved sequences of microcrack damage as cracks grow under load at temperatures up to 1,750 °C. Our observations are key ingredients for the high-fidelity simulations used to compute failure risks under extreme operating conditions.

Concepts: Engineering, Materials science, Computer, Gas, Material, Metallurgy, Turbine, Gas turbine


The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) is considering strengthening the Emission Standard of Air Pollutants for Stationary Gas Turbines, originally published in 2011 (DB11/847-2011), with a focus on reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions. A feasibility study was conducted to evaluate the current operation of twelve (12) existing combined-cycle gas turbine power plants and the design of two (2) new plants in Beijing and their emission reduction potential, in comparison with a state-of-the-art power plant in California, United States. The study found that Best Management Practices (BMPs) could potentially improve the emission level of the power plants, and should be implemented to minimize emissions under current design characteristics. These BMPs include (1) more frequent tuning of turbine combustors; (2) onsite testing of natural gas characteristics in comparison to turbine manufacturer’s specifics and tuning of turbine to natural gas quality; (3) onsite testing of aqueous ammonia to ensure adequate ammonia concentration in the mixed solution, and the purity of the solution; (4) more careful inspection of the heat recovery steam generator (HRSG), and the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) during operation and maintenance; (5) annual testing of the catalyst coupon on the SCR to ensure catalyst effectiveness; and (6) annual ammonia injection grid (AIG) tuning. The study found that without major modification to the plants, improving the management of the Beijing gas turbine power plants may potentially reduce the current hourly-average NOx emission level of 5-10 parts per million (ppm, ranges reflects plant variation) by up to 20%. The exact improvement associated with each BMP for each facility requires more detailed analysis, and requires engagement of turbine, HRSG, and SCR manufacturers. This potential improvement is an important factor to consider when strengthening the emission standard. However it is to be noted that with the continuous needs of improving air quality within the area, more expensive control measures such as retrofitting the turbines or the HRSGs, may be considered.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Nitrogen, Natural gas, Coal, Air pollution, Emission standard, Gas turbine, Combined cycle


Fatigue failure is the main type of failure that occurs in gas turbine engine blades and an online monitoring method for detecting fatigue cracks in blades is urgently needed. Therefore, in this present study, we propose the use of acoustic emission (AE) monitoring for the online identification of the blade status. Experiments on fatigue crack propagation based on the AE monitoring of gas turbine engine blades and TC11 titanium alloy plates were conducted. The relationship between the cumulative AE hits and the fatigue crack length was established, before a method of using the AE parameters to determine the crack propagation stage was proposed. A method for predicting the degree of crack propagation and residual fatigue life based on the AE energy was obtained. The results provide a new method for the online monitoring of cracks in the gas turbine engine blade.

Concepts: Gas compressor, Jet engine, Turbine, Gas turbine


Two-color, planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF)-based two-dimensional (2D) thermometry techniques for reacting flows, which are typically developed in the laboratory conditions, face a stiff challenge in their practical implementation in harsh environments such as combustion rigs. In addition to limited optical access, the critical experimental conditions (i.e., uncontrolled humidity, vibration, and large thermal gradients) often restrict sensitive laser system operation and cause difficulties maintaining beam-overlap. Thus, an all fiber-coupled, two-color OH-PLIF system has been developed, employing two long optical fibers allowing isolation of the laser and signal-collection systems. Two OH-excitation laser beams (∼283 nm and ∼286 nm) are delivered through a common 6 m long, 400 µm core, deep ultraviolet (UV)-enhanced multimode fiber. The fluorescence signal (∼310 nm) is collected by a 3 m long, UV-grade imaging fiber. Proof-of-principle temperature measurements are demonstrated in atmospheric pressure, near adiabatic, CH4/O2/N2jet flames. The effects of the excitation pulse interval on fiber transmission are investigated. The proof-of-principle measurements show significant promise for thermometry in harsh environments such as gas turbine engine tests.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Optical fiber, Laser, Combustion, Fiber-optic communication, Jet engine, Turbine, Gas turbine


With an increase in renewable wind energy via turbines, an underlying problem of the turbine blade disposal is looming in many areas of the world. These wind turbine blades are predominately a mixture of glass fiber composites (GFCs) and wood and currently have not found an economically viable recycling pathway. This work investigates a series of second generation composites fabricated using recycled wind turbine material and a polyurethane adhesive. The recycled material was first comminuted via a hammer-mill through a range of varying screen sizes, resinated and compressed to a final thickness. The refined particle size, moisture content and resin content were assessed for their influence on the properties of recycled composites. Static bending, internal bond and water sorption properties were obtained for all composites panels. Overall improvement of mechanical properties correlated with increase in resin content, moisture content, and particle size. The current investigation demonstrates that it is feasible and promising to recycle the wind turbine blade to fabricate value-added high-performance composite.

Concepts: Energy, Renewable energy, Turbine, Gas turbine, Wind turbine, Windmill, Éolienne Bollée, Turbines