Advanced Filtration to Improve Single Crystal Casting Yield

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-12ER90391
Agency Tracking Number: 87606
Amount: $999,977.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2013
Solicitation Year: 2013
Solicitation Topic Code: 18a
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0000880
Small Business Information
1180 Seminole Trail, Suite 220, Charlottesville, VA, 22901-5739
DUNS: 009934576
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Michael Appleby
 (434) 244-6480
Business Contact
 James Atkinson
Title: Dr.
Phone: (434) 244-6480
Research Institution
Modern gas turbines must operate at higher temperatures in order to achieve better fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. To achieve maximum performance, components must be made of Nickel super-alloys and must be cast as single crystals. Although single crystal casting yields have improved, they have not improved sufficiently to enable wide-spread use of single crystal super-alloys in industrial gas turbines (IGT), primarily due to low yields. Innovative approaches to increase the yield are needed. Mikro Systems proposes to apply its patented Tomo Lithographic Molding (TOMO) process to produce superior ceramic filters that are used to remove the impurities during the molten metal pouring step in the casting process. Improved filtration will increase the yield and ultimately lower the cost of these critical and costly high technology parts. A 1% improvement in casting yield could lead to annual savings over $10 million in the U.S. alone. During Phase I Mikro demonstrated the technical feasibility of producing advanced designs for pour cup and inline filters using TOMO. Until now, these designs could not be produced due to limitations in current manufacturing methods. Flow tests of Mikro filters demonstrated much lower variability in flow rate and pressure drop from filter-to- filter compared with off-the-shelf filters. Flow rates during single crystal casting are critically linked to the metal solidification process, which is directly tied to production yield for turbine blades. The primary Phase II objectives are to optimize materials and filter designs to be ready for industry standard single crystal casting. This will include extensive testing and modeling, and will conclude with foundry casting of an advanced turbine blade to evaluate and compare the new filter performance with current filters. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Advanced filters have application in investment casting of turbine components for IGT as well as the much larger aero turbine markets. This will improve the yield and lower costs for single crystal casting and can be expanded to other casting processes and products. Investment casting is a multi-billion dollar global market.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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