Nanoengineered, Superhydrophobic Surfaces for Steam Turbines and Condensers
Develop a robust nanotech manufacturing infrastructure for the design and processing of nanomaterials to produce extremely water-repellent surfaces for use in harsh industrial environments.
Sponsor: General Electric CompanyGE Global Research
1 Research Circle
Niskayuna, NY 12309-1027
The remarkable progress in the science of nanomaterials in recent years has led to the development of new classes of materials with unprecedented control of materials structure, composition, and resulting properties, yet the actual impact of nanotechnology largely has been limited to niche markets. The General Electric Company has proposed a project to create a robust nanotech manufacturing infrastructure driven by a specific application: the design and processing of nanomaterials to produce superhydrophobic surfaces for use in harsh industrial environments. Superhydrophobic surfaces combine surface chemistry and geometry to shed water by forcing the water to ball up into tiny spheres that readily roll off—lotus leaves are the classic example. Water is a vital fluid in almost all industrial processes, and the efficiency of many processes can be improved by using surfaces that are water-shedding. Steam turbines used for power generation, a particularly demanding materials environment, lose efficiency when steam condenses on critical parts. Superhydrophobic surfaces for turbines and condensers could result in substantial efficiency improvements for powerplants and industrial processes. By 2030, full implementation of this technology could save as much as seven gigawatts of electricity capacity for the U.S. alone—a cost savings of about $2.5 billion a year and a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of about 37 million tons a year. GE Global Research, with subcontractors Nanocerox, Inc. (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Sulzer Metco (U.S.), Inc. (Westbury, N.Y.), will leverage expertise in materials and coating process development, tailored nanoparticle manufacturing and equipment design to develop a robust, nanoengineered technology for industrial superhydrophobic surfaces that can withstand harsh industrial conditions. The benefits of the technology will be validated for steam turbines, power plant condensers and desalination condensers. Additional benefits could accrue if the technology is applied to biomedical devices, marine vessels, and other infrastructure markets.