Materials and Surface Engineering Solutions for Low to High Temperature Energy Recovery from Industrial Waste Heat Streams Containing Corrosive Elements

Case Study

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Royce’s Industrial Collaboration Programme (ICP) awarded a total of  £145,943.31 to this project which explored the performance of materials under extreme conditions. 

In this project, heat exchanger HX material properties were studied in novel conditions (high temperature corrosion HTC and low temperature corrosion LTC environment). The information on alloys behaviour was evaluated and used to support decisions regarding suitable materials for use in the exhaust flue gases environment and the development of containerised Waste Heat to Power (WH2P) systems to recover energy.

Three types of materials (IN625, SS316 and coated SS316) were tested for both corrosion conditions (wet and dry). In both corrosion tests the gas mixture composition includes O2, H2O, CO2, HCl and SO2 gases simulate flue gas exhaust conditions. For a LTC a maximum exposure time of 300h was carried out and 3 different acids were used (HCl, H2SO4, HNO3) to simulate the condensation of acidic vapour. For HTC test, materials studied under 3 exposure periods of 100, 200 and 300 hours. The samples were covered with corrosive deposits simulate WH2P HXs materials.

The microscopy and metrology results for LTC tests showed that IN625 performed well in all the 3 environments, while SS316, whether coated or uncoated, suffered major corrosion attack, especially in the H2SO4 environment.

Similarly, HTC test summaries showed IN625 to be the best performer with lower corrosion damage in comparison with both bare and coated SS316 . The coating application doesn’t suggest a significant effect on material performance, with corrosion rates being very similar to uncoated material.

This project  suggests further assessment of material performance, particularly SS316 with other coating systems as an alternative for the more costly IN625.

The alloys ranking supports the overall goal of achieving NetZero carbon emissions. Future research may conduct another ICP project to assess the degradation mechanisms in further detail.

“It was an exciting journey and a great experience working with BAE and Reactions engines. I can picture both companies as a potential partner for future projects. The outcome certainly strengthens rationales and underpin basic material sciences principles. It also provided thinking processes opportunity to every stake holder. The project outcome clearly suggested the outperformed material type against the other candidate materials in proposed aggressive conditions. The incorporation of suggested candidate heat exchangers material would enable swift acquiring of ideal processes subsequently enhance the WH2P technology development.

Adnan Syed 
Lecturer in Material Degradation Processes, Cranfield University


The team at Cranfield delivered the project as per plan. This team was selected based on the problem statement and included Prof. John Nicholls and Prof. Nigel Simms who are very well known experts on the subject. their presence in meetings and suggestions were taken onboard and appreciated by the partners. Other members of staff at Cranfield including RF and RA also used their skills and enable the effective project delivery on time.

This research project was successfully completed with full co-operation between partners BAE and Reaction Engines. The materials were provided free of charge. Reaction engines also host the onsite meeting for all partners as in-kind support.  The participation of academics and industry with different background (materials, engineers, chemist) in this interesting project made the results discussion very much meaningful.

Further Information
  • The funding allocated for this project was £145,943.31
  • Project partners BAE and Reaction Engines provided in kind support; sample materials were provided free of charge.