Repairing generators with a supersonic blast of steel particles

PNNL researchers are finding out the consequences of Chilly Spray on metals. Credit score: Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest Nationwide Laboratory

A extremely anticipated functionality with the potential to restore hydroelectric dam generators with out the melting related to conventional restore strategies has made its approach to the Pacific Northwest Nationwide Laboratory (PNNL) for validation analysis.

The potential, known as Chilly Spray, is the latest addition to PNNL’s suite of Stable Part Processing, or SPP, instruments.

SPP is a disruptive method to metals manufacturing that may be higher, cheaper, and greener than melt-based strategies sometimes related to metals manufacturing. It’s poised to supply a particular aggressive benefit to U.S. manufacturing.

A supersonic blast of steel particles

Nearly each state within the U.S. makes use of hydropower for electrical energy. For instance, 74 % of Washington State’s electrical energy comes from hydropower.

Over time, although, the pressure of the water causes cavitation—sometimes pits and cracks—on the floor of the generators. That quantities to excessive restore prices and misplaced income for dam operators, who should shut down the generators to restore them, sometimes utilizing arc welding.

The issue—the warmth from the welding melts and degrades the steel, inflicting the turbine to incur cavitation harm at an growing charge.

Enter Chilly Spray, which sprays tiny steel particles onto the broken space of the turbine at supersonic speeds, with no melting concerned. The particles influence the floor laborious sufficient to type a bond, producing supplies and coatings with superior hardness, put on resistance, and corrosion resistance.

Cold Spray to Help Keep Turbines Spinning
The particles from Chilly Spray produce supplies and coatings with superior hardness, put on resistance, and corrosion resistance. Credit score: Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest Nationwide Laboratory

PNNL has taken receipt of a Chilly Spray system developed by VRC Metallic Techniques, and it’s thought of that firm’s most present expertise. The chilly spray course of could make turbine blades considerably extra resistant to break over arc welding restore approaches, in accordance with laboratory testing carried out to American Society for Testing and Supplies (ASTM) requirements.

PNNL is now actively working with hydropower collaborators towards an preliminary area utility of the expertise to validate the dramatic enhancements seen within the ASTM testing.

“We’ve got financial knowledge that enabled us to conclude that after Chilly Spray expertise is established for hydro repairs, it’ll considerably cut back downtime and restore frequency on account of resistance to cavitation erosion,” says PNNL mechanical engineer Chris Smith. “It additionally offers dams the pliability to time wanted repairs, for instance, throughout occasions of drought.”

Cold Spray to Help Keep Turbines Spinning
Cavitation harm to a turbine blade runner of J.R. Carr Unit 2, Feb. 2013. Credit score: John Germann | U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The crew can also be wanting into utilizing Chilly Spray to create options for different components of the power sector. For instance, they’ve investigated restore and mitigation of corrosion harm in nuclear waste storage canisters utilizing Chilly Spray.

Past restore, Chilly Spray can be used as an additive manufacturing course of. As a result of the Chilly Spray steel particles don’t soften in the course of the course of, there may be the potential to create entire new alloy techniques which can be in any other case incompatible in melt-based processes.


Method harvests waste warmth from untapped sources


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Pacific Northwest Nationwide Laboratory


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