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Advanced Wear-Resistant Nano-composites for Increased Energy Efficiency

FWP/Project Description: 

AlMgB14-based composites are a new class of super-hard materials developed at Ames Laboratory. Initial studies of AlMgB14 composites demonstrate the potential for obtaining a high-wear-resistance material through powder metallurgy processing. However, the approach employed to prepare these composite samples is based on research-scale mechanical alloying and hot pressing. To be used commercially, the composites need production in larger quantities and in a more cost efficient manner.

The goals of this project are to increase operating efficiency and operating lifetime of industrial pumping systems and other wear-intensive industrial components. This is achieved by developing and commercializing a family of ceramic-based composites, that show outstanding wear-resistance in laboratory tests. A major objective of the proposed effort is to develop a cost-effective, industrial-scale processing, and synthesis method for making AlMgB14composites capable of producing bulk materials possessing comparable or even improved wear-resistance properties compared to the research-scale compacts. Optimization of composition and processing on the laboratory scale will serve as an initial milestone, providing industrial processing partners with a "template" for developing their industrial-scale procedures. Emphasis will be placed on examining alternate powder processing techniques, and powder blending and densification methods to eliminate porosity and achieve products exhibiting a maximum combination of hardness and toughness. Successful development of these new wear-resistant composites is expected to result in U.S. energy savings of 31 trillion BTU/year by 2030.

Nanocoatings for High-Efficiency Industrial Hydraulic and Tooling Systems

FWP/Project Description: 

This project represents the Ames Laboratory's contribution to a larger, multi-partner research effort led by Eaton Corporation, involving Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Greenleaf Corporation. This collaboration shares an interest in the development of next-generation wear-resistant coatings.

The objective of this project is to develop and commercialize degradation-resistance materials—nano-coatings of AlMgB14 and AlMgB14-TiB2—applicable to a wide range of industrial applications, including hydraulic pumping systems and machine tooling, that reduces friction and wear. Technology resulting from this project is estimated to result in U.S. energy savings of 31 trillion BTU/year by 2030, with associated energy cost savings of $179M/year.

Research performed on this project has shown that AlMgB14-based coatings combine high hardness with a low friction coefficient (0.1 or less under dry conditions and as low as 0.02 in a water-based environment). These coatings can significantly reduce wear on rotating and sliding interfaces and extend the life of cutting tools in lathe turning tests with titanium based alloys by 50% compared with state-of-the-art TiAlN-coated tools. Development and commercialization of these coatings will result in multiple benefits in improved energy efficiency, lower emissions, waste reduction, and higher product quality across a wide range of critical processes in paper processing and manufacturing of chemicals, petrochemicals (plastics), and mining. The project also includes basic research to understand the physics and surface chemistry of the coatings, and ways to achieve further improvements in their performance and durability.

Computational & Experimental Development of Novel High Temperature Alloys

FWP/Project Description: 
Project Leader(s):
Principal Investigators:
Mufit Akinc, Matthew Kramer

The objective of Computational and Experimental Development of Novel High Temperature Alloys is to develop alloys with enhanced high temperature oxidation resistance with robust mechanical properties. To accomplish this objective we utilize a novel multi-stage progressive “sieving process.” At this point in time, the most promising alloys are Ni-based, so the efforts will concentrate specifically on designing oxidation-resistant Ni-based alloys that can operate at temperatures close to 2500°F (~1350°C). While intermetallics, like the Mo-silicides, can withstand oxidative environments at very high temperatures, they have poor mechanical properties that preclude their implementation. On the other hand, Ni-based alloys (especially alumina formers) provide good mechanical strength and oxidation resistance. Since the melting point of Ni is 1455°C, the challenge lies in alloy compositions having significantly higher melting points, while maintaining good microstructural, thermodynamic, and chemical stability at elevated temperatures. Our approach would involve using the Miedema model for initial screening of prospective alloys, followed by more detailed thermodynamic assessments, and experiments on oxidation behavior to focus on these potential alloys.

Improved Atomization Processing for Fossil Energy Application

FWP/Project Description: 

Current techniques to remove the particulates from hot gases derived from combustion or gasification of coal include the use of porous, rigid, ceramic filter elements intended to remove all particles 1 µm in diameter and larger, and to maintain permeability for extended filtration service by use of gas backflushing. Unfortunately, the use of ceramic filters has limitations, owing primarily to their inherent brittleness, long-term microstructural instabilities at operating temperatures, and poor thermal fatigue resistance. Metal filters of high-temperature corrosion-resistant alloys can offer enhanced thermal and mechanical shock resistance, and high strength—sufficient for filter assembly and operation in high frequency, high-pressure pulsing modes. In addition, alloy filters processed from high-quality spherical powders of a controlled size can utilize unique designs, be processed by many innovative methods, and joined by welding to facilitate filtration system assembly to allow novel filtration system configurations. The objectives of this study are to design and develop metallic filters having uniform, closely controlled porosity, using a unique spherical powder processing and sintering technique. The corrosion resistance of the filter materials (such as Haynes 214, Kanthal AF, and Krupp 602CA) will be evaluated under simulated PFBC/IGCC gaseous environments to determine the optimum alloy composition and filter structure. Corrosion tests also provide a means to estimate the service life of experimental filter materials, when subjected to either normal or abnormal PFBC/IGCC plant operating conditions. Metallic filters are expected to offer the benefits of non-brittle mechanical behavior and improved resistance to thermal fatigue compared to ceramic filter elements, thus improving filter reliability. Moreover, the binder-assisted powder processing and sintering techniques developed from this study will permit additional filter design capability (e.g., highly controlled filter porosity/permeability with greatly enhanced processing simplification), thus enabling more efficient and effective filtration.

Project Leader(s): Iver Anderson Principal Investigators: Iver Anderson

Development of Improved Powder for Bonded Permanent Magnets

FWP/Project Description: 
Project Leader(s):
Principal Investigators:
Iver Anderson, Vladimir Antropov, Bruce Harmon, Kai-Ming Ho, Matthew Kramer, R. William McCallum, Cai-Zhuang Wang

This project has three main objectives.

  1. Develop high performance permanent magnets (PM) for traction motor with internal PM rotor:

    • requires elevated temperature (180-200°C) operation, minimize cooling needs
    • increased high temperature magnetic performance more critical than RT
  2. Reduce manufacturing cost of PM traction motors:
    • bonded PM can utilize injection or compression molding technology

      • net shape forming for mass production of rotors
  3. Achieve high performance and reliability for bonded magnets:
    • increase volumetric loading
    • minimize irreversible magnetic losses (oxidation)

Improved Atomization Processing for Fossil Energy Applications

FWP/Project Description: 
Project Leader(s):
Principal Investigators:
Iver Anderson

This project seeks to enhance the control of metal powder production by gas atomization methods to benefit the implementation of several emerging Fossil Energy technologies that utilize metal powders of specific size ranges and types, not efficiently produced by industrial powder makers.  Further improvements in fundamental understanding and design of high efficiency gas atomization nozzles will be directed toward maximizing powder yields in special size classes, including ultrafine (dia. < 10 µm) and mid-range (10 µm < dia. < 44 µm) powders.  Efficient production of such powders can eliminate a major technological barrier to the use of new concepts for fabrication, for example, hydrogen membranes, heat exchanger tubing, and oxidation/sulfidation resistant coatings.  To provide a direct route for rapid transfer of the atomization technology improvements, powder production tests will be performed in laboratory atomization systems that can demonstrate advanced industrial operation in terms of steady-state operation and controls systems.  The laboratory atomization experiments will also involve detailed analysis of atomization process response to alloy and parameter modifications to verify the effect of process innovations.  To facilitate investigation of powder processing of the complex alloys involved with Fossil Energy applications, initial work will involve pure metals and simple model alloys for each target area of process or alloy development.


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