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Dartmouth gets grant to boost power plants

Jul 02, 2012   |   by Denis Paiste   |   N.H. Union Leader

Dartmouth [Professor of Engineering Ian Baker] has received a $294,072 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a research project on strengthening steel alloys with aluminum for the next generation of gas- and coal-fired power plants.

The Dartmouth work will focus on improving oxidation resistance in iron-based steel alloys containing chromium and nickel. Dartmouth will put $108,394 of its own funds towards the project.

The grant was one of nine averaging $300,000 each to universities to strengthen and improve corrosion resistance for iron-based steels, which currently cannot tolerate the temperatures up to 1,400 degrees needed to operate Advanced Ultra Super Critical turbines and boilers for power generation plants.

Under the grants, totaling $2.7 million, student-led teams will develop new materials and processes that can endure extreme conditions and make coal more cost competitive, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman said in a conference call.

“We need to embrace new technologies that allow the power sector to burn coal more cleanly and efficiently,” Heather Zichal, a deputy assistant to President Obama for energy policy, said.

Zichal said the Obama Administration has invested more than $5 billion in clean coal technology research and development, particularly carbon capture and storage, which has been matched by more than $10 billion in private capital investment.

Industry is focused on finding alternatives to expensive nickel-based alloys.

Research projects announced Wednesday also will use new processes and computational design methods to develop new materials, improve efficiency and reduce the costs of cleaner power generation systems.

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