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The efficiency of high temperature energy generation plant and aero-engines is critically impacted by solid particle erosion, particularly at elevated temperatures.
This damage process can reduce the efficiency of turbines by as much as 7 to 10%, The cause and type of solid particle erosion varies across different industries and locations in plant, for instance the particles could be volcanic ash in aero-engines, fly ash in boilers, exfoliated scale in steam turbines or mineral matter in oil excavation. In all cases the performance of materials can be improved through better surface engineering and coatings, but the development of these is restricted due to lack of generic models, well controlled and instrumented tests and international standards.
A framework is required therefore that can be applied to these different situations to characterise the high temperature erosion performance of new materials and coatings and thereby accelerate their development and design. To achieve this, a step change in the test methods and control of high temperature solid particle erosion is required. However, limitations in current measurement capability within this form of test prevent the advancement.
A new European initiative on the development of high temperature solid particle erosion testing has a primary aim to develop this metrological framework. Several key parameters have been identified for measurement and control; these include temperature (of the sample, gas and particles), flow rate, size and shape of the erodent, angle of incidence of the particle stream and nozzle design. The ability to measure the erosion rate and damage accumulation during the test is also very desirable, but is very challenging.
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