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John O | March 2019

UVA and Rolls-Royce partner to enhance efficiency of jet engines through thermoelectric materials

By Josh Perry, Editor


The University of Virginia (UVA) School of Engineering (Charlottesville, Va.) and Rolls-Royce are partnering on a project to make jet engines more efficient by identifying and developing thermoelectric materials that will harness excess energy.


UVA and Rolls-Royce are partnering to make jet engines more efficient.
(Wikimedia Commons)


Researchers will explore the potential of the voltage that is derived from a temperature change in the coating of the engine, according to a press release. UVA is one of only three North American schools in the Rolls-Royce University Technology Center Network and will team up with the engine manufacturer on the study.


The goal of the study is to create a material with low thermal conductivity that can create a reserve of energy that can be reused by the engine.


“In exploring thermal barrier coatings in great detail,” the press release explains, “they also hope to develop coatings that are less expensive to produce--another area of savings for the industry.”


UVA researchers recently had a study on the thermal properties of coatings published in Advanced Materials. The abstract stated:


“Manipulating a crystalline material's configurational entropy through the introduction of unique atomic species can produce novel materials with desirable mechanical and electrical properties. From a thermal transport perspective, large differences between elemental properties such as mass and interatomic force can reduce the rate at which phonons carry heat and thus reduce the thermal conductivity.


“Recent advances in materials synthesis are enabling the fabrication of entropy?stabilized ceramics, opening the door for understanding the implications of extreme disorder on thermal transport. Measuring the structural, mechanical, and thermal properties of single?crystal entropy?stabilized oxides, it is shown that local ionic charge disorder can effectively reduce thermal conductivity without compromising mechanical stiffness.


“These materials demonstrate similar thermal conductivities to their amorphous counterparts, in agreement with the theoretical minimum limit, resulting in this class of material possessing the highest ratio of elastic modulus to thermal conductivity of any isotropic crystal.”

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