Tom Haines

Accidental finding may help engines of the future

November 24, 2008 by Thomas B. Haines, Editor in Chief

The Holy Grail for a new generation of turbine engines is some sort of ceramic surface for turbine blades to allow the engines to run even hotter than they do today with advanced metal alloy blades. A solution, found accidentally in a government lab, may be on the horizon.

It’s sort of a geeky article, but newscientist.com is reporting that scientists at the Department of Energy’s Ames labs discovered the new ceramic alloy by mistake in 1999 when they were attempting to find a substance that would generate electricity when heated. It didn’t work, but the result was an alloy of boron, aluminum, and magnesium–BAM for short. The substance is slicker than Teflon and almost as hard as diamonds. The thinking is that for some applications, simply coating the blades of pumps would allow for longer life and better lubrication.

So if it works there, might it be a solution for turbine blades? Time will tell.

 

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One Response to “Accidental finding may help engines of the future”

  1. Gordon Brown Says:

    The boys and girls at Ames are just a tad slow on the uptake . . . The Soviets, while attempting to drill through the crust of the earth into the mantle, discovered this same phenomenon during the late 1950s. Micro particles can be introduced into engines and machines to “coat” friction points. . . Increases lubricity, reduces fuel consumption, reduces emissions, increases engine life, increases power, and resists hydrogen embrittlement. . .

    Was a well guarded secret during the Cold War. The Ruskies even coated sub hulls . . . reducing friction and protecting against salt water corision. You can purchase the engine additives through distributors of CerMet Labs.

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