The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced a new manufacturing prize as part of the Manufacturing Innovator Challenge: the Lightweight Turbocharger Turbine Wheel Challenge.
Photo credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
EERE has partnered with Freelancer.com since 2018 to hold crowdsourcing campaigns that attract innovative solutions to today’s manufacturing challenges and broad industry participation. The Manufacturing Innovator Challenge consists of individual challenges across multiple technologies to find ideas that will enhance manufacturing in the United States.
Many new engine concepts include a turbocharger to help increase thermal efficiency and increase power density (horsepower/liter displacement). The turbine and compressor wheels in the turbocharger rotate at speeds above 100,000 revolutions per minute. DOE seeks design concepts for a lightweight turbocharger turbine wheel that can meet or exceed the performance of an Inconel automotive component and have the ability to be scaled up to larger turbocharger applications.
Inconel is a family of austenitic nickel-chromium-based superalloys that are oxidation-corrosion-resistant and well suited for service in extreme environments subjected to pressure and heat.
When heated, Inconel forms a thick, stable, passivating oxide layer protecting the surface from further attack. Inconel’s high temperature strength is developed by solid solution strengthening or precipitation hardening, depending on the alloy.
To optimize the efficiency and transient response, the new design should take advantage of innovative manufacturing techniques (such as additive manufacturing) and new material concepts.
DOE will award one prize for a lightweight turbo turbine wheel concept, with a prize of approximately $7,000.
The contest submission will consist of a 5-page (maximum) report that must include:
Description of the technical approach
Materials envisioned (including mechanical properties)
Manufacturing approaches required (including finishing and/or joint technologies)
Comparison to existing component
Technical performance expectations and risks
Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) drawing or Mechanical Drawings of the concept
Evaluation criteria include:
Innovation (30/100): Degree to which proposed concept does not currently exist and/or meets an existing need
Impact (30/100): The amount of impact a technology solution could have
Feasibility (40/100): The technical feasibility of the proposed concept