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Mat UK Energy Materials Review

Materials R&D Priorities For Gas Turbine


Based Power Generation.
10th July 2007

Draft for Comment

Authors:
J Hannis - Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery
G McColvin - Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery
C J Small Rolls-Royce plc
J Wells - RWE npower

Responses to C J Small < colin.j.small@rolls-royce.com> or


G.McColvin gordon.mccolvin@siemens.com

Mat UK - Materials R&D Priorities For Gas Turbine Based Power Generation

Contents
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. .................................................................................................................3
2. INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................................4
3. GAS TURBINE MATERIALS. ...........................................................................................................5
3.1 Generic technology.........................................................................................................................5
3.2 Compressors. ..................................................................................................................................5
3.3 Combustors.....................................................................................................................................7
3.4 Turbines..........................................................................................................................................9
3.4.1 Turbine Blades.........................................................................................................................9
3.4.2 Turbine Discs.........................................................................................................................11
3.4.3 Bolted Joints. .........................................................................................................................12
3.4.4 Sealing. ..................................................................................................................................13
4. FUTURE R&D PRIORITIES. ...........................................................................................................14
5. ANNEX 1 COATINGS. ..................................................................................................................15
PICTURE CREDITS..............................................................................................................................16

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1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.
The following report summarises the current materials technology for land
based gas turbine components, and reviews the commercial and technology
drivers. The current trends and future prospects for component design and
operating conditions (e.g. pressure ratios, turbine inlet temperatures etc) are
described.
The following key recommendations are made for materials technologies for
gas turbine applications:

Ongoing incremental development of existing advanced high


temperature material systems for industrial gas turbine
applications to serve the short and medium term needs.
Step change disruptive materials system development to meet
the medium and long term needs.
Advanced manufacturing development for cost reduction,
increased materials performance and integrity (including
materials and process modelling).
Develop of robust accurate NDE and lifing methods.
Overhaul and repair capability coupled with remnant life
assessment

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2. INTRODUCTION.
Gas turbines are key components in the most efficient forms of advanced
power generation plants available. Their high versatility and flexibility enables
gas turbines to be used as a means of generating electrical energy using
operational cycles such as conventional simple cycle, combined cycle, and
combined heat and power generation systems.
The success of the gas turbine
power generation industry in
the UK is dependent upon
satisfying
customer
and
operator requirements, while
simultaneously optimising the
complex, and often interacting,
technical challenges arising
from market and legislative
factors. These have effects on
capital and operating costs,
efficiency, power output, fuels
and emissions.
A range of fuels are used,
including liquid fuels, natural
gas, synthetic gas produced
from coal or other feedstocks
and biomass. However, the properties of lower calorific value gas fuels
produce several problems such as:

Increased fuel mass flow for a given heat input requirement;


Presence of fuel-borne nitrogen leading to higher NOx
emissions;
Increased fuel gas temperature and higher levels of
contaminants, where gas cooling/cleaning is restricted to
maximise overall cycle efficiency.

More complex cycles that incorporate hardware such as intercoolers,


recuperators and heat exchangers and reformers are being developed that
aim to provide improvements in thermal efficiency, but consequently lead to
more complex running conditions for core components and more complex
plant design and operation. Other issues include CO2 reduction and
sequestration, use of hydrogen fuel and catalytic combustion systems
The emphasis placed on each of these factors by organisations within the
power generation industry depends on the particular role played within the
market, i.e. manufacturer, supplier, operator, etc. The following sections aim
to describe the technologies and developmental drivers for land-based gas
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turbine materials and components. The trends and future prospects for
component design and operating conditions are described.

3. GAS TURBINE MATERIALS.


3.1 Generic technology
The following sections review the materials used in the different parts of
modern industrial gas turbines, however underpinning any materials
development are 4 key technologies that must be developed in parallel. These
are:
Coatings.
NDE
Lifing
Repair
Each of these technologies are considered to be part of the individual
materials solutions in each section, however where possible specific reference
to some or all of them is made as appropriate. In addition, given their visibility
and importance to the gas turbine, a summary of coatings developments is
given in annex 1.

3.2 Compressors.
The challenge facing the compressor is to provide improved cycle efficiency,
operability and reduced costs by optimising the work done by each stage.

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This can be achieved
by better control of the
pressure
ratio
and
mass flow through the
compressor, improved
component
reliability
and
reduced
parts
count. As well as the
materials developments
that
support
these
requirements advanced
manufacturing methods
are being introduced to
enable cost reduction
and improved integrity.
For example, welded
structures are being
considered to replace
bolted joints.

Future developments are aimed at increasing pressure ratios from the current
15:1 level to 40:1 and beyond, while continuing to target efficiency and surge
margin gains. The need to maintain compressor performance and integrity
through life, while reducing parts costs and the use of more effective
manufacturing processes is paramount, as is the need to achieve operational
lifetimes in excess of 100,000 hours. Many of these targets are dependent
upon improved design and aerothermal analysis methods in conjunction with
test and validation procedures; however without suitable high temperature
materials these cannot be achieved.
For small to intermediate gas turbine compressors, the temperature loadings
experienced currently range from -50 to about 500C. In the short to medium
term the continued use of improved low-alloy and ferritic stainless steels will
be adequate. This situation will continue until significant increases in
compressor temperatures are needed because of much higher-pressure ratios
and rotor speeds. In such a situation it is assumed that aero-derivative
technology such as titanium alloys, nickel alloys and composites will be
employed. This would, however, present a significant increase in cost and
manufacturing complexity (forgings, machining, joining, component lifing) as
well as operational difficulties (component handling, overhaul, repair,
cleaning) and may introduce additional problems associated with thermal
mismatch and fretting fatigue from adjoining ferritic alloys.
Consideration has also been given towards lightweight materials such as
aluminium matrix composites, polymer composite blading and vanes, as well
as intermetallic TiAl-based alloys to provide reduced rotor and overall engine
mass, and lower disc stresses to enable higher rotational speeds. In addition,
design and materials concepts have evaluated the application of integrally
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bladed discs (bliscs) based on steel, titanium or nickel alloy technology using
friction welding.
Issues associated with rotor corrosion are largely operator dependent, being
influenced by the specific nature of the fuel, compressor washing and cleaning
practices. These are currently addressed by use of protective coatings.
Likewise, commercially available abradable tip sealing coatings are currently
used to provide and maintain efficiency and currently present little technical
risk.
For large utility power generation engines the temperature and strength
limitations of the rotor steels used are currently limiting the performance. The
development and demonstration of high-nitrogen, nano-precipitate
strengthened steels for high pressure compressor disc applications that offer
equivalent strength and temperature capabilities to some nickel alloys with
much reduced cost is crucial. Application of these high strength creepresistant steels necessitates the development of improved large-scale melting
(up to 100 tonnes) and forging capabilities (up to 18 tonnes) and the
development of suitable welding technologies, non-destructive testing
methods for large-scale rotors and validated life assessment and risk analysis
methods. Successful development of this technology would negate the need
to introduce much more expensive (by a factor of 5) nickel alloy technologies.
To achieve this the materials and process developments required will be
heavily dependant on successful integrated process modelling that links the
materials and process developments and enables an optimised, affordable,
manufacturing route to be developed.
An added complication for the compressor is the introduction of water/fogging
at the intake to improve performance. The presence of water droplets leads to
erosion issues on compressor blading. In the short term this will require the
development of erosion resistant coatings for existing materials but in the
medium to longer term an erosion resistant materials system solution will be
required

3.3 Combustors.
The combustor experiences the highest gas temperatures in a gas turbine and
is subject to a combination of creep, pressure loading, high cycle and thermal
fatigue. The materials used presently are generally wrought, sheet-formed
nickel-based superalloys. These provide good thermomechanical fatigue;
creep and oxidation resistance for static parts and are formable to fairly
complex shapes such as combustor barrels and transition ducts. Equally of
importance is their weldability, enabling design flexibility and the potential for
successive repair and overhaul operations, which is crucial to reducing life
cycle costs. The high thermal loadings imposed often mean that large portions
of the combustor hardware need to be protected using thermal barrier
coatings.

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Current temperature loadings experienced by combustors range from 1250 to
1375C, depending on the engine size and duty cycle. Future developments
aim to reduce CO2, NOx and SO2 emissions to meet anticipated
environmental legislation and customer demands for cleaner running by
optimising the distribution of fuel during firing and by using catalytic
combustion systems. The significance of this requirement is to place a limit on
the anticipated future turbine entry temperature levels, placing more emphasis
on controlling peak flame temperatures within the combustor. This should also
provide more air for cooling the combustor liner; however, as a consequence
other components may be required to run hotter as the demand for
combustion flame temperature control increases.
Materials technology acquisition programmes for future combustor designs
are aimed at replacement of conventional wrought nickel-based products with:

More capable Ni-based alloys.


Oxide dispersion strengthened metallic systems
Ceramic matrix composites.

The programmes are primarily aimed at addressing the limitation in


temperature capability and coating compatibility of current alloys. Candidate
materials have been identified
and demonstration hardware
has been manufactured and
engine tested. However, there
are
limitations
to
these
technologies that need to be
developed before they can be
deployed on products, e.g.
joining methods, environmental
barrier coating systems, robust
design, inspection, lifing and
repair
capabilities.
These
materials have also been
identified as candidates for
efficient, high temperature heat
exchangers for a range of
externally fired combined cycle
systems that separate the turbine working fluid from the aggressive
combustion gases generated by poor quality fuels. This limits the damage
incurred by hot section hardware during engine running and enables the use
of a range of low calorific value and biomass fuels combined with combined
heat and power recovery systems.
The current thermal barrier coatings technology for metallic combustor
applications is based exclusively on multi-layered systems comprising of an
MCrAlY bondcoat and a ceramic topcoat applied using plasma spray
deposition techniques. Application of this technology generally aims to limit
peak metal temperatures to 900 to 950C. Future developments are aimed at
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applying thicker coatings to enable higher flame temperatures and/or reduce
metal temperatures further. Other programmes are aimed at increasing the
phase stability and resistance to sintering of the ceramic topcoat at
temperatures above 1250C and to the inclusion of diagnostic sensor layers
within the coating that enable the plant and component condition to be
actively monitored. New materials will however require new coatings systems
that can only be specified and developed in parallel with the substrate
development.
Finally, the use of coal gasification cycles may lead to much higher particulate
loadings than for other fuels. The development of high temperature erosion
and corrosion resistant coatings and substrate materials, as well as improved
gas cleaning facilities will be required. The increased operating temperatures
and corrosive/erosive fuel gas will require the further development of coating
technologies.

3.4 Turbines.
3.4.1 Turbine Blades.
Turbine blades are subjected to significant rotational and gas bending
stresses at extremely high temperatures, as well as severe thermomechanical
loading cycles as a consequence of normal start-up and shutdown operation
and unexpected trips. The turbine entry temperature is typically in excess of
1375C, with base metal temperatures ranging from 850 to >1050C. The
target lifetime under these conditions is dependent on engine type and duty
cycle, but can be in excess of 50,000 operating hours. The blades pass
through the wake of the combustor and nozzles and are subject to high
frequency excitations, which can lead to high cycle fatigue failure. The highpressure stages are cooled to withstand the hot gas temperatures and,
depending on the type of fuel, corrosion and erosion of the blade structure is
limited by the use of protective coatings.
For many years the primary consideration in the design of blades has been to
avoid the possibility of creep failure due to the combination of high stresses,
temperatures and the expected length of running time. To meet this
requirement and increase the efficiency by running a higher turbine
temperatures more advanced materials have been continuously introduced.
For vanes and blades there has been a gradual move away from
conventionally cast nickel-based superalloys towards directional solidification.
The introduction of these alloys, manufactured using near-net shape
investment casting has provided significant benefits in terms of much
improved creep and thermal fatigue properties. Further significant benefits
have been gained by the use of single crystal technology for both blades and
vanes. A number of issues are, however, still to be resolved. The increased
cost of manufacture needs to be mitigated by the use of revert materials and
increased casting yields, and offset against improved component lifetimes and
more efficient running (through the higher turbine entry temperatures they
make possible). Alloys with greater defect tolerance, in particular to low
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medium angle boundaries, need to be developed and proved with advanced
modelling of the behaviour of defects under load.
To achieve increased creep strength, successively higher levels of alloying
additions (Al, Ti, Ta, Re, W) have
been used to increase the level of
precipitate
and
substitutional
strengthening. However, as the level
of alloying has increased the
chromium additions have had to be
significantly reduced to offset the
increased tendency to form TCP
phases, which limit ductility and
reduced
strength.
Reduced
chromium levels also significantly
reduce the corrosion resistance of
the alloys. This has necessitated the
development of a series of
protective coating systems. The
coatings are applied to provide
increased component lifetimes, but they often demonstrate low strain-tofailure properties that can impact upon the thermomechanical fatigue
endurance.
The development of industrial gas turbine specific turbine blade alloys
continues to be a difficult problem to resolve. Much dependence has been
placed by the land-based sector on the transfer of advanced technologies
from the aero sector and this has not always provided the necessary
solutions. The key issues associated with this dependence are as:

Development of a succession of alloys with reducing corrosion


resistance, despite increasing requirements for the use of
differing poor quality fuels and a range of running conditions to
satisfy the power generation market requirements.
Limited castability of large-scale components due to
recrystallisation and microstructural defects such as freckles,
large angle grain boundaries and coarse dendritic structures
leading to reduced property levels.
Over-emphasis on high stress and high temperature creep
strength.

Efforts have been made to address these issues with the development of a
number of alloys having improved castability, higher corrosion resistance and
reduced heat treatment times. Alloys have been developed with varying
degrees of success; however significant work is needed in this field to develop
alloy systems that address not only the alloy, but its coating, lifing and repair
as an entity not as a series of unrelated steps. There is a large scope in
industrial gas turbines for continued incremental development of Ni-based
alloys and coatings for the short and medium term.
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The issue of coatings development for turbine blades and vanes is currently
treated almost as a separate topic from the substrate that will carry it into
service. They are applied for oxidation/hot corrosion protection reasons (as
described above) and include aluminising, chromising and MCrAlY. They are
also applied to reduce metal temperatures by acting as a thermal barrier
protection system, usually as a ceramic plus bond coat system. They are
usually applied over the top of existing materials and a variety of similar
proprietary solutions exist and are being further refined. This classical
additive approach will doubtless continue but future developments will have to
treat the substrate, the bond coat, the coating and the environment as
inherent components of the materials system solution that is required.
Continued development of multilayer coatings and application methods are
therefore required to improve reliability and reduce cost but with this holistic
approach in mind.

3.4.2 Turbine Discs.


The main functions of a turbine disc are to locate the rotor blades within the
hot gas path and to transmit the power generated to the drive shaft. To avoid
excessive wear, vibration and poor efficiency this must be achieved with great
accuracy, whilst withstanding the thermal, vibrational and centrifugal stresses
imposed during operation, as well as axial loadings arising from the blade set.
Under steady-state conditions, current turbine disc temperatures can vary
from approximately 450C in the cob to in excess of 650C close to the rim
with a requirement for >50,000h operating life. These temperature loadings
are set to increase further across the disc as the demand for improved
efficiencies continues.
Creep and low cycle fatigue resistance are the principal properties controlling
turbine disc life and to meet the operational parameters requires high integrity
advanced materials having a balance of key properties:

High stiffness and tensile strength to ensure accurate blade


location and resistance to overspeed burst failure;
High fatigue strength and resistance to crack propagation to
prevent crack initiation and subsequent growth during repeated
engine cycling;
Creep strength to avoid distortion and growth at high
temperature regions of the disc;
Resistance to high temperature oxidation and hot corrosion
attack and the ability to withstand fretting damage at mechanical
fixings.

To meet the highest operating temperatures and the component stress levels
demanded, it has been necessary to develop a series of progressively higher
strength steel and Ni-based superalloys. These are generally manufactured
using cast and wrought processing. However, the complex chemistry of these
alloys makes production of segregation-free ingots very difficult. A triple melt
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process is necessary, involving vacuum induction melting, electroslag refining
and vacuum arc remelting to limit macrosegregation and defect inclusion.
Manufacture of larger components, or more complex alloys, would necessitate
a change to atomised powder processing to limit segregation, while dual alloy
processing offers the potential for overcoming the variability in strain
distribution across the section of
large forged turbine wheels. Many
of these developments are being
pursued by the aero-gas turbine
industry to meet their more
demanding conditions and it is
assumed that much of this aeroderived technology can be inserted
into these applications. However
the cost may preclude this in which
case a completely new approach to
the materials, design, manufacture
and repair of such components will
be required.
The issue of coatings development
for turbine discs is currently treated in the same way as coating for blades but
is a much less mature technology. The same holistic systems approach is
therefore required.

3.4.3 Bolted Joints.


To provide serviceability of hot section components, bolted joints are
employed on both rotor and stator components. On rotors, such bolts are
safety critical and should ensure that rotor integrity is maintained in the event
of a blade failure. In rotors,
bolted joints are used with in
conjunction with features such
as Spline, Hirth, Curvic or Spigot
couplings to ensure component
concentricity and balance are
maintained.
High
strength
wrought superalloys are used for
bolting in high temperature
areas where resistance to creep
is essential to ensure that bolt
tension is maintained over the
life of the product. Low cycle fatigue strength is required to ensure adequate
cyclic life in both bolt shanks and threads. In general, turbine disc alloys are
suitable for bolting applications with the additional requirement that materials
which are not subject to thread seizure are needed to permit disassembly
after extended service. To avoid the possibility of thread damage in high cost
complex components, the use of captive nuts or thread inserts is common.

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3.4.4 Sealing.
(i) Rotating Seals.
Turbine gas path seals include rotor tip seals and disc rim seals. On
unshrouded rotor tips and rim seals, coatings such as MCrAlY and
Nickel-Graphite can be employed as an abradable coating to avoid
damage in the event of a rub. Erosion resistance and the ability to
provide abradability after long-term exposure at high temperature are
required for such coatings. On shrouded rotor blading, superalloy
honeycomb foil materials are employed as abradable seals and high
temperature oxidation resistance is needed for foil materials to achieve
long life at high temperature. Research is ongoing to develop improved
seal materials and novel methods of construction and application for
the above seal types. The labyrinth seal is the most common form of air
system seal, usually with an abradable stator material. Positive contact
carbon seals are often used for bearing chamber seals. The
development of brush seals has provided improved sealing efficiency
and is displacing the use of labyrinth seals in critical locations. Both
metallic and non-metallic bristles are employed depending on
temperature levels and wear resistance and fatigue resistance key
parameters. Film riding face seals have the potential for even higher
sealing efficiencies but place extreme demands on manufacturing
technology if they are to be practicable.
(ii) Static Seals.
Static seals are used to seal gaps and joints between components
where there are small relative movements due to thermal expansions
and they can be employed on both turbine rotor and turbine and
combustor stator components. On cylindrical joints, piston rings and E
seals are used and for sealing gaps between adjacent blades and
vanes strip seals are employed. On rotor blades it is common for
sealing features and blade locking features to be combined. Seal strips
and E seals used in high temperature locations employ wrought sheet
materials as used for combustor components. Wear and fretting can be
experienced on such seals and the development of hard coating
systems can alleviate this. For this type of seal, brush seals, used in a
static application, can allow larger thermal movements with low
leakage.

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4. FUTURE R&D PRIORITIES.


Based on the preceding sections the following items have been identified as
the key materials enabling technologies for gas turbine applications:

Ongoing incremental development of existing advanced high


temperature material systems for industrial gas turbine
applications to serve the short and medium term needs.
Step change disruptive materials system development to meet
the medium and long term needs.
Advanced manufacturing development for cost reduction,
increased materials performance and integrity (including
materials and process modelling).
Develop of robust accurate NDE and lifing methods.
Overhaul and repair capability coupled with remnant life
assessment

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5. ANNEX 1 COATINGS.
Surface engineering and coatings technology plays a crucial role in the
operation of all high temperature plant, particularly for GT engines. The desire
for higher operating temperatures, improved performance, extended
component lives and cleaner, more fuel-efficient power generation places
severe demands on the structural materials used and many components
operating at high temperature are coated or surface-treated to enable costeffective component lifetimes to be achieved.
Coatings are applied to provide wear, erosion, oxidation, corrosion or thermal
protection depending on the nature of the operating environment and the
thermal loads to be endured. Coatings are also used for improving and
maintaining surface finish, anti-fouling, anti-fretting, abrasive seal tips and seal
materials. Any coating should possess the requisite mechanical properties,
adhesion and metallurgical stability in contact with the substrate to withstand
the thermomechanical cyclic loadings imposed. The main types of protective
coatings used for gas turbine components can be defined as follows:

Diffusion Coatings: Formed by the surface enrichment of an


alloy with aluminium (aluminides), chromium (chromised) or
silicon (siliconised). In some systems combinations of these
elements are possible i.e. chrome-aluminised or siliconaluminised.
Overlay Coatings: Formed by applying a layer to the component
surface. This type forms the bulk of the coatings used in GT
engines. They are applied by a variety of methods including
thermal and slurry spraying, physical vapour deposition and
welding. Examples include:
Simple paints
Corrosion resistant coatings such as MCrAlY (where M is
the base metal, normally Ni or Co or a combination of the
two; Cr is chromium, Al is aluminium and Y is yttrium).
Thermal barrier coating (based on a ceramic topcoat,
usually partially stabilised cubic Zirconia, attached to the
metal substrate by means of an oxidation-resistant bond
coat (typically a MCrAlY or a diffusion aluminide coating)).

In the short to medium term continued development of new coatings to be


applied to existing materials will be required however in the long term as
new materials are introduced coatings and their associated technologies will
have to be developed as an integral part of the delivery of the overall
materials system solution.

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PICTURE CREDITS
Page 6 Alstom Power
Front Cover and pages 4, 8 and 10 Rolls-Royce plc
Page 5, 12 (both) Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery

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