On Tuesday, GE announced that it won a deal to supply four turbine-generator sets to Egypt’s El Dabaa nuclear power plant. The order includes four Arabelle turbines — the world’s largest steam turbines in operation — that are designed to last 60 years and boast a reliability rate of 99.96%.
Starting point: The construction of the turbines will take place in Belfort, France. GE acquired the plant and the technology from Alstom. Workers at the plant have been busy, thanks to nuclear energy’s resurgence in Europe, Asia and Africa, where nations and corporations seek to shrink their carbon footprints. “This is the only factory in the world able to manufacture this kind of turbines,” said Kevin Cogo, general manager of rotating equipment for GE Power’s steam power business. Nuclear power plants harness heat generated by controlled nuclear fission to boil water. The resulting steam travels through a series of turbines that spin a generator to create electricity.
Read more about the Egypt deal here.
This month, GE Aviation plans to start mass-producing GEnx jet engine brackets using 3D printing technology at its factory in Alabama. Engineers at GE Aviation’s Additive Technology Center in Ohio have spent the last year developing a new process to mass-print the bracket.
Print production: This is the first time GE has designed a mass-production process for a line of its own 3D printers made by Concept Laser, a German engineering company it acquired in 2016. “Minor tweaks here and there are OK in the development phase, but when you get into production, everything has to be locked down,” said Danny Brandel, a lead manufacturing engineer at the ATC. The bracket — roughly the size of a human rib — holds the engine cover open during service. It is a necessary part of the GEnx-2B jet engine, which powers the latest generation of Boeing 747s.
Read more about the new process here.
The portable electronics revolution of the past few decades wouldn’t have been possible without rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. But there’s a demand for even better energy storage solutions for future technologies, like the smart grid.
Emerging materials: Enter materials science, an engineering discipline focused on the design and discovery of new materials. Researchers in the field have been pushing the limits of existing battery materials and creating new battery compositions. For instance, scientists are looking at graphene, a two-dimensional lightweight material that is an excellent electricity conductor. Beyond materials, scientists are also exploring new imaging technologies to see what’s happening inside batteries during energy storage. Being able to see this process enables researchers to pinpoint the efficiencies and inefficiencies of their designs, and adjust them accordingly.
Read more about the battery revolution here.
1. Greener plane takes flight
A Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet took flight this week powered by waste gas; specifically, by carbon-rich pollution from a steel mill that’s been converted to jet fuel. “The technology not only provides a viable source of sustainable jet fuel but also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere,” said John Holladay, a deputy manager at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which worked on the fuel.
2. Bot the Builder
Engineers at the Advanced Industrial Science and Technology laboratory in Japan have created an autonomous humanoid robot, called HRP-5P, to install drywall. They hope that technology like this robot can free human workers to do more higher-value labor and less heavy lifting.
3. Salty electricity
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have created an extremely water-repellent surface that generates electricity when salt water flows over the patterned surface. It could someday be used as a way to harvest energy in water desalination plants, among other application.
Plus, a beetle-inspired cement and smarter self-driving algorithm in this week’s Coolest Things on Earth.
— QUOTE OF THE DAY —
“I think that everybody agrees, at least in France, that we should increase the share of renewables in the French energy mix. But everybody also agrees that we need nuclear. If you want all of the cars in the country go electrical, for example, you can’t have a plan without relying on nuclear power.”
— Kevin Cogo, general manager of rotating equipment for GE Power’s steam power business