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DOE Awards $1.1M for Cold Spray Research

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

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Last month, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded computational materials design specialist QuesTek Innovations LLC (Evanston, Illinois) $1.1 million in Small Business Innovation Research Phase II funding for the design, development and qualification of a novel materials solution and process for next generation molten salt reactors.

Specifically, QuesTek will focus on efficient and cost-effective cold spray processing of bimetallic structures, with refractory-based alloys, such as molybdenum, as a surface layer to provide better corrosion resistance.

For the project, QuesTek is partnering with Solvus Global, a leader in advanced cold spray technology process optimization, and Professor Vilupanur Ravi at Cal Poly Pomona, an expert in materials behavior in molten salt.

Phase I

Prior to being awarded the funding, QuesTek was using its Integrated Computational Materials Engineering technologies in Phase I of the project to design novel molybdenum alloy compositions that combine improved cold spray processability with high molten salt corrosion resistance and strong interfacial bonding to the substrate material.

JSquish, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Last month, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded computational materials design specialist QuesTek Innovations LLC (Evanston, Illinois) $1.1 million in Small Business Innovation Research Phase II funding for the design, development and qualification of a novel materials solution and process for next generation molten salt reactors.

According to QuesTek, the cold spray trials were successfully carried out on 316 stainless steel.

“Cold spray is one of the most effective and economical coating technologies to greatly extend the lifetime of next-generation nuclear reactors,” said Pin Lu, QuesTek Materials Design Engineer and project Principal Investigator. “We are excited for this opportunity to apply our proven computational materials design approach to design novel high performance cold sprayable refractory materials, improving the economic feasibility and performance of future clean energy.”

Phase II

Moving into Phase II, QuesTek will research other refractory alloy designs beyond molybdenum, such as niobium, tungsten, tantalum, among other more extensive functionally graded, cold spray structure evaluations. During evaluations, researchers will focus on both the material and the process, in addition to scale-up considerations.

“Further development of functionally graded coatings applied via cold spray will augment the commercialization of critical technologies,” said Solvus Global co-founder and CEO, Aaron Birt. “This project team combines all the key facets needed to successfully transfer a materials solution out of the lab and into industry, from modeling to production scale up. We look forward to continued project involvement and we are ready to deliver this materials solution at scale to the nuclear industry.”

The research project is noted to support the DOE’s clean energy initiative of enabling more efficient electricity generation. According to QuesTek, while current ASME code-approved materials for metallic nuclear molten salt reactors have adequate temperature and oxidation resistance, they lack ideal corrosion resistance properties.

“This project covers the full gamut—materials design, novel coatings development, and environmental stability,” said Ravi. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to evaluate the stability of these novel coatings in molten salt environments through innovative and careful testing protocols accompanied by detailed characterization.”

   

Tagged categories: Awards and honors; Coating Materials; Coatings Technology; Corrosion control coatings; Corrosion engineering; Corrosion resistance; Funding; Government; Industrial coatings; NA; North America; Research and development; Spray systems; U.S. Department of Energy

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