The energy materials laboratory (EML) contains a range of facilities to enable the evaluation of the corrosion performance of metallic and ceramic materials in a wide range of environments that are found in the power generation industries.

Pilot-scale advanced capture technology (PACT) provide specialist facilities for research and development of smaller scale research projects without the need for larger more expensive large scale trials.

A large burner rig facility (730kWth) is targeted at exposing materials in simulated gas turbine combustion environments. Air cooled probes or an aerofoil cascade are used to expose materials to a hot gas stream whose composition can be controlled using impurity additions (e.g. gaseous, particle, vapour contaminants).

Controlled atmosphere furnaces (atmospheric pressure and pressurised) are used to simulate environments found in a wide range of power generation environments (including combustion and gasification). They are used for the exposure of materials under specific targeted conditions.

Steam furnaces are used at atmospheric pressure for the evaluation of heat exchanger materials in steam environments over a wide range of temperatures.

Thermal balances are used to monitor the change in weight of materials and fuels during exposures for short periods at high temperatures.

The materials exposure facilities are usually used as parts of programmes targeted at the development of models of materials performance in specific plant environments. As well as experimental exposures, such programmes also used the extensive materials preparation and analytical facilities available at Cranfield University.

The laboratory is used to train MSc and research students and used extensively in business with a number of partners and clients including Siemens Power Generation, Rolls-Royce, E.ON, RWE Npower, Alstom, Porvair and Doosan Babcock, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the European Union.

The energy materials laboratory includes the following facilities:

  • Burner rig,
  • Controlled atmosphere furnaces,
  • Steam furnaces,
  • Pressurised controlled atmosphere furnace,
  • Thermal balances.

Summary of applications

Energy systems rely on their materials of construction. In many power generation systems, high temperature corrosion is a life limiting process for components (and so limits plant efficiencies, maintenance intervals, etc). Thus, the generation of reliable high temperature corrosion data and the development of models of materials damage for realistic plant environments, is of interest to power plant manufacturers and operators.

Using the facility

Research programmes funded by EPSRC, TSB and EU include: