Published: Aug 1, 2013 1:00:00 AM
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Jeffrey Fergus, professor in Auburn University’s materials engineering program, has received a $300,000, three-year grant from the Department of Energy to investigate longer-lasting, cost-effective coatings for fossil energy conversion systems.
Fossil fuel systems, such as modern turbine engines, use high temperatures and pressures for efficient energy conversion, requiring long-term heat-resistant coatings on the engine components. Fergus seeks to develop thermal barrier coating systems that will replace the current platinum-containing coating systems. The new coatings will be more cost-effective, corrosion-resistant and will extend the life and operating conditions of advanced turbine systems. His approach will emphasize a university-industry collaboration – Fergus is working closely with Plasma Processes, LLC, to develop new coatings earlier in the product cycle than has been done in the past.
“Although our country needs to further develop renewable energy conversion technologies, such as wind and solar energy, most of our energy is currently generated through the combustion of fossil fuels,” says Fergus. “Improving the efficiency of these processes by even a small amount corresponds to a large amount of energy, and thus significantly reduces the consumption of our finite fossil fuel resources.”