Wednesday, June 19

Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering Awarded Additional Funding for 3D Research

The University of Pittsburg has been awarded more funding money following their breakthrough research within the 3D printing industry.

According to 3D Print, the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering has already received over $1 million to research 3D tech and how it could be used to improve the durability of gas turbine metal coatings. Now, Dr. Minking Chyu, Distinguished Service Professor and the Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, has received even more funding.

Dr. Chyu and his team of 3D researchers received $777,192 for the study, “Integrated Transpiration and Lattice Cooling Systems Developed by Additive Manufacturing with Oxide-Dispersion-Strengthened Alloy.” The funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“While generating enormous amounts of energy, gas turbines also generate enormous amounts of heat and are at risk of being damaged by these high temperatures,” said Dr. Chyu.

Gas turbines operate at much higher temperatures than steam turbines — typically at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit versus 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit for steam turbines. Because of these high temperatures, it’s important that each turbine uses high quality, durable binders for exterior coating. Pitt’s team of researchers were able to 3D print binders and alloys made out of tungsten, a durable and dense metal.

“The alloys we’re developing increase the melting point of the turbine’s components, and therefore improve their heat resistance,” added Dr. Chyu. “Additive manufacturing enables us to create complex lattice structures that allow cool air to enter the turbines and reduce temperature even further.”

Typical binders used on tungsten carbide are cobalt and nickel, which is added as percentage by weight, anywhere from 3% to 30%.

According to, the Swanson School of Engineering will be working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Reactor Laboratory, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. An upcoming study, lead by Dr. Kevin Chen (Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt) will utilize an additional $1.275 million grant.

The new project will focus on using 3D printing as well as other cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to develop advanced sensors for nuclear reactors. The grant was provided by the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) program, part of the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP).

Dr. Chen believes the grant will help the school research solutions to some of the most complex and pressing problems facing the nuclear energy industry. In addition, it could help the school develop new safety solutions for the industry, which has often struggled with public trust.

In 2017, Dr. Chen was awarded the “Innovation in Energy Award” in 2017 and will he and the rest of the research team at Pitt will likely be major players in the 3D printing game for a long time.

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