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Products and solutions, 2008-05-29, 11:00 AM

Research project by ThyssenKrupp VDM, RWE Power and Fraunhofer Institute significantly reduces development time for new materials

Increasing efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions are the challenges to be met by future coal-fired power plants. 700 degree technology will be key to this. The extremely high steam temperatures in the boiler and turbine require the use of new materials. To speed up approval processes for the use of these materials in the new power plants, ThyssenKrupp VDM and RWE Power, the power plant subsidiary of the RWE group, have signed a cooperation agreement and have commissioned the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials in Freiburg to carry out a research project: in laboratory experiments, high-quality materials are characterized for new material models to allow the behavior of highly stressed parts to be predicted by simulation. “We are developing simulation methods for critical power plant components based on expertise we developed for the automotive industry,” says Prof. Hermann Riedel, head of materials-based process and part simulation at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials.

All the partners are contributing their specialist knowledge to the project: ThyssenKrupp VDM is providing its expertise in the production and processing of materials, the Fraunhofer Institute is carrying out laboratory tests for material characterization and developing the material models, and RWE Power is analyzing designs for power plant components and operating experience with a view to the optimized use of materials.

“New, more efficient power plant technologies are urgently required to further reduce CO2 emissions,” says Dr. Jutta Klöwer, head of research and development at ThyssenKrupp VDM. “As these higher efficiencies can only be achieved through higher steam temperatures, for example in 700 degree power plants, other materials are needed.” ThyssenKrupp VDM develops and produces these special nickel alloys for boiler tubes and turbine parts. “The simulations help us on the one hand to optimize geometry and load conditions when designing critical parts, and on the other hand to define practical maintenance intervals and test locations,” says Dr. Ralf Mohrmann from the power plant planning and approval unit of RWE Power. “They allow us to determine which components need to be replaced ahead of schedule, depending on power plant operation.” The advantage: researchers can identify possible weaknesses in part geometry in advance and develop alternatives; this speeds up the construction of more environment-friendly power plants.

“The use of computer simulations is completely new in this area. They allow material development times to be reduced from over ten years to just a few months,” says Dr. Jutta Klöwer. “They help us achieve greater power plant efficiency more quickly and thus make a positive contribution to protecting the environment.”

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