Research in regards to 3D printing has again kicked into high gear at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering–and so has the funding. As some of today’s brightest minds work to use 3D printing to develop durable material coatings that can withstand challenging and unwelcoming environments, they have also received a cooperative agreement totaling $1,015,490.
Minking Chyu, PhD, Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, will lead the Pitt researchers whose grant includes $798,594 from the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and $216,896 in matching funds from Pitt.
All of the research centers around the 3D printing of some very high-powered turbines, as the researchers work to improve their thermal qualities, mainly in protection against obvious extreme heat. This project scope is meant to cover both current turbines in production today and those being developed for the future.
The specific focus is on hot-section components like the airfoils. With this in mind, the University of Pittsburgh researchers will be working on oxide dispersion strengthened–near-surface embedded cooling channels. It’s hoped the new designs will provide enhanced cooling and greater efficiency, and information from the research will be provided to manufacturers responsible for making the turbines.
As one out of nine projects which received the funding through a venue called the University Turbine Systems Research Program–an extremely competitive arena–Chyu has named it the ‘Design, Fabrication, and Performance Characterization of Near-Surface Embedded Cooling Channels with an Oxide Dispersion Strengthened Coating Layer’ project. It will center around the use of an oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) coating layer, employing 3D printing.
“Even though ODS has many superb properties for protecting substrate material from oxidation and deteriorated strength in a very high temperature environment, it is very hard for traditional machining or cutting,” said Chyu. “Therefore, this technology would not be realizable if not because of additive manufacturing.”
Chyu, who holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota, specializes in research regarding energy, power, and propulsion but has also been the catalyst behind several collaborative research programs, to include those in: micro- and nanotechnology, fuel cells, thermoelectrics, and manufacturing. He has received four NASA Certificates of Recognition for his contributions to space shuttle programs.
We’ve followed the University of Pittsburgh numerous times, and recently as they also received millions of dollars for research into improving the design of 3D printed structures as well as a story on the University of Pittsburgh McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which was using 3D printing to create a new technique for repairing damaged bone and tissue late last year.
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