High-Temperature Ni-Based Superalloy Composition

materials and coatings
High-Temperature Ni-Based Superalloy Composition (LEW-TOPS-152)
A Phase Transformation Strengthened Superalloy Resistant to Creep
Innovators at the NASA Glenn Research Center have developed a nickel-based superalloy using specific alloying elements to inhibit deleterious deformation at temperatures above 700°C. The drive for energy efficiency in power generation and propulsion places the development of high-performance materials at the forefront of materials science. Turbine engine efficiency and reduction in carbon emissions are directly related to engine operating temperature. With increasing temperatures, materials start to plastically deform under load, a process known as creep, which sets severe limits on performance. Therefore, increased performance in aircraft engines and land-based power generators requires the development of new high-temperature structural materials that are resistant to creep. For example, a main factor prohibiting higher operating temperatures in jet turbine engines is the creep life of the Ni-based superalloy turbine disks. NASA's new superalloy composition significantly improves the creep life of turbine disks and also increases the operating temperature limit.

The Technology
NASA's new Ni-based superalloy uses a powder metallurgy (PM) composition that inhibits the deleterious gamma-prime to gamma-phase transformation along stacking faults during high temperature creep deformation. Ni-base superalloys have excellent high temperature properties, mostly due to the presence of coherent precipitates. At higher temperatures, these precipitates are defeated by the diffusional shear dislocations producing intrinsic and extrinsic faults. Recent studies have found that, during deformation of turbine disk alloys at high temperature, Co, Cr, and Mo segregate to these faults (removing Ni and Al) inside the strengthening precipitates of these alloys. This represents a local phase transformation from the strengthening precipitate to the weaker matrix phase. Therefore, this elemental segregation significantly weakens the ability of a precipitate to withstand further deformation, producing faster strain rates in the alloy at higher temperatures. This invention presents a solution to prevent this type of segregation along these two faults to improve the creep properties of turbine disks and similar Ni-based alloys. By alloying a specific amount of eta phase formers (Ti, Ta, Nb, and Hf), the phase transformation to can be eliminated along 2-layer extrinsic stacking faults (SESFs) in precipitates without precipitating bulk eta phase. Also, by adding a certain amount of D019 formers (Mo and W), the phase transformation to can be mitigated along 1-layer intrinsic stacking faults (SISFs) without producing bulk sigma phase. This alloy composition incorporates both strengthening methods for use in jet turbine disks, though the composition has applications in other high-stress and/or high-temperature environments as are found in power plants, space launch systems, and other critical structural applications.
NASA's new Ni-based alloy presents significantly better creep properties over current alloys (ME3 and LSHR) through phase transformation strengthening.
  • Improves the high-temperature properties of Ni-based superalloys: higher temperature operation allows increased engine efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions for jet engines and turbines, while also enabling a longer lifetime for turbine blades
  • Offers a new phase-transformation strengthening mechanism: resists high-temperature creep deformation in Ni-based superalloys and inhibits the deleterious deformation mode of nanotwinning at temperatures above 700°C

  • Aerospace: high-temperature and high-stress structural components for space launch systems and jet turbine engines
  • Industrial machinery: chemical processing and waste processing systems
  • Marine: turbine engines for ships
  • Oil and gas: oil refining process
  • Power: steam turbines and gas turbines for electricity generation, structural components for solar thermal power plants, heat exchangers for nuclear reactor systems
  • Propulsion: rockets, jet engines, etc.
Technology Details

materials and coatings
"Producing Next Generation Superalloys Through Advanced Characterization and Manufacturing Techniques," Smith, T.M., et al., January 28, 2020,

"Segregation and Phase Transformations along Superlattice Intrinsic Stacking Faults in Ni-based Superalloys," Smith, T.M., et al., September 9, 2018,

"Phase transformation strengthening of high-temperature superalloys," Smith, T.M., et al., November 22, 2016,
Similar Results
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High-Strength Superelastic Compounds
60NiTi, which contains 60% nickel and 40% titanium, is a superelastic intermetallic material for use in bearings, gears, and other mechanical systems. When properly processed, 60NiTi is hard, lightweight, electrically conductive, highly corrosion resistant, readily machined prior to final heat treatment, non-galling, and non-magnetic. 60NiTi was previously considered difficult to machine, partly because of issues with residual stresses and quench cracking. Modern ceramic processing methods, co-developed by NASA Glenn, now enable 60NiTi bearings to be easily manufactured. In addition, a method is available for pre-stressing the materials to increase their durability. Bearing-grade 60NiTi is manufactured via a patented, high-temperature powder metallurgy (PM) process. Pre-alloyed 60NiTi powder is hot isostatic pressed (HIPed) into various shapes and sizes depending upon the desired end product. To make 60NiTi balls, the powder is HIPed into rough, spherical ball blanks that are then ground, polished, and lapped. Because the PM process yields ball blanks that have isotropic mechanical properties, high-quality (Grade 5) ball bearings can be readily produced. The finished 60NiTi balls are bright and shiny in appearance and resemble conventional polished steel balls. The manufacture of 60NiTi balls is a fully commercialized process, and many standard ball sizes are available. The material can also be shaped into other metallic components, such as gears, sliding bearings, actuators, and drives.
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High-Temperature Single Crystal Preloader
For extremely high-temperature sealing applications, Glenn researchers have devised novel methods for fabricating single-crystal preloaders. NASA's high-temperature preloaders consist of investment cast or machined parts that are fabricated in various configurations from single crystal superalloys. Machined preloaders include a variety of spring configurations, compressed axially or radially, fabricated from single crystal slabs. Before machining, the slabs are carefully oriented in a special goniometer using x-diffraction techniques. This helps to maintain proper crystal orientation relative to the machined part and the applied loads. For more complex geometry components which cannot be easily and economically machined, an investment casting approach would be used. Complex preloader geometries include wire coil springs of various configurations. These single crystal preloaders would be designed with the appropriate stiffness for the intended thermal barrier/seal application and placed underneath, or integrated within, the seal/barrier. At extrememly high temperature, the preload device keeps the seal/barrier mated against the opposing surface as the gap between the two surfaces changes, maintaining contact between surfaces and preventing convective heat transfer.
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Shape Memory Alloy with Adjustable, Wide-Ranging Actuation Temperatures
SMAs are important multifunctional materials for the development of adaptive engineering structures. They exhibit a high work output that is competitive with, or superior to, conventional hydraulic, pneumatic, or electromagnetic actuators. While highly promising, SMAs are not always a practical alternative to conventional actuators because of their limited phase transformation temperatures and dimensional instability. Thanks to Glenn's innovative new SMA, that's about to change. Unlike traditional binary NiTi SMAs, Glenn's Ni-Ti-Hf-Zr SMA includes secondary, nanoscale precipitate phases that offer inherent dimensional stability to the material. Consequently, there is minimal to no need for training, resulting in much faster production times, lower processing costs, and a finished product with superior work outputs and better operational life. These Ni-rich alloys can be produced by Vacuum Induction Melting, Vacuum Arc Melting, Vacuum Arc Remelting, and Induction Skull Melting. Perhaps the most exciting characteristic of Glenn's SMA, however, is its ability to achieve a broad range of transformation temperatures suitable for high temperature (100 to 300°C), ambient, and sub-ambient temperature applications nearing -100°C. Furthermore, these temperatures can be tailored and fine-tuned though heat treatment to fit the needed parameters for the application of interest. In contrast, traditional NiTi SMAs exhibit fixed phase transformation at temperatures from slightly below room temperature to around 100°C. Glenn's Ni-Ti-Hf-Zr SMA opens the door to countless applications that can benefit from the unique properties of SMAs but require high durability and extreme temperature capability.
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Solid state power conversion devices, such as thermoelectrics, depend upon temperature gradients for their operation. For example, aeronautic gas turbine engines maintain the necessary temperature gradients throughout their systems due to the enthalpic processes of combustion, which offers the possibility of generating electrical power for use in primary and secondary electrical systems in the aircraft. However, until now thermoelectric materials have not been able to withstand the combination of high temperatures and oxidative environments present in gas turbine engines. Glenn's innovation overcomes these limitations by using a doped oxide pyrochlore (crystal compound) semiconductor as the thermoelectric material. The material has a low thermal conductivity, which allows it to maintain a thermal gradient and sufficient electrical conductivity to produce an electromotive force. The pyrochlore allows the thermoelectric material to be present within a gas turbine engine, converting heat directly into electricity and functioning at high temperatures without oxidizing in air. Glenn's innovative thermoelectric material permits the benefits of solid-state power conversion devices to improve fuel efficiencies for a broader range of applications than has ever been possible. This innovation is in the early stages of development, and Glenn welcomes opportunities for co-development.
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Abnormal Grain Growth Suppression in Aluminum Alloys
Heat treatment of the deformed welds is desirable in order to restore the properties of the alloy negatively affected in the weld region. In these alloys, abnormal grain growth frequently occurs in friction stir welds during solution heat treatment, and is known to degrade key materials properties, such as strength, ductility and toughness. The innovation of inserting an intermediate annealing step covered here reduces abnormal grain growth during post-welding heat treatment, thereby allowing optimum mechanical properties. This is important where Al-Li alloys (and other heat treatable alloys) are friction stir welded followed by deformation processing and high performance, high reliability structural components are required for aerospace vehicles.
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