The U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $28 million in funding for a new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, ULtrahigh Temperature Impervious Materials Advancing Turbine Efficiency (ULTIMATE). The ULTIMATE program will develop and demonstrate ultrahigh-temperature materials that can operate in high-temperature and high-stress environments of a gas-turbine blade. Projects will specifically target gas-turbine applications in the power-generation and aviation industries.

The ULTIMATE program will improve the efficiency of gas turbines by increasing the temperature capability of the materials used in the most demanding environments, such as the turbine blade. The temperature capability of current blade materials has improved steadily over the last few decades to 2012°F (1100°C) through incremental microstructure and chemistry refinement. However, there exists a new opportunity to discover, develop and implement novel materials that work at temperatures significantly higher than industry-standard superalloys to further increase efficiency and economic gains.

ULTMATE projects will address this need by developing novel ultrahigh-temperature metal alloys and coatings integrated with advanced manufacturing processes. The program will target enabling gas-turbines blades to operate continuously at 2372°F (1300°C) in a material test environment.