Superalloy Technology - A Perspective on Critical Innovations for Turbine Engines


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High temperature structural materials, such as nickel-based superalloys, have contributed immensely to societal benefit. These materials provide the backbone for many applications within key industries that include chemical and metallurgical processing, oil and gas extraction and refining, energy generation, and aerospace propulsion. Within this broad application space, the best known challenges tackled by these materials have arisen from the demand for large, efficient land-based power turbines and light-weight, highly durable aeronautical jet engines. So impressive has the success of these materials been that some have described the last half of the 20th century as the Superalloy Age. Many challenges, technical and otherwise, were overcome to achieve successful applications. This paper highlights some of the key developments in nickel superalloy technology, principally from the perspective of aeronautical applications. In the past, it was not unusual for development programs to stretch out 10 to 20 years as the materials technology was developed, followed by the development of engineering practice, and lengthy production scaleup. And many developments fell by the wayside. Today, there continue to be many demands for improved high temperature materials. New classes of materials, such as intermetallics and ceramic materials, are challenging superalloys for key applications, given the conventional wisdom that superalloys are reaching their natural entitlement level. Therefore, multiple driving forces are converging that motivate improvements in the superalloy development process. This paper concludes with a description of a new development paradigm that emphasizes creativity, development speed, and customer value that can provide superalloys that meet new needs.



Edited by:

J. A. Sekhar and J. P. Dismukes






R. Schafrik and R. Sprague, "Superalloy Technology - A Perspective on Critical Innovations for Turbine Engines", Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 380, pp. 113-134, 2008

Online since:

March 2008


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