The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has been involved in research and development related to improved performance of recuperators for industrial gas turbines since about 1996, and in improving recuperators for advanced microturbines since 2000. Recuperators are compact, high efficiency heat-exchangers that improve the efficiency of smaller gas turbines and microturbines. Recuperators were traditionally made from 347 stainless steel and operated below or close to 650°C, but today are being designed for reliable operation above 700°C. The Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored programs at ORNL have helped defined the failure mechanisms in stainless steel foils, including creep due to fine grain size, accelerated oxidation due to moisture in the hot exhaust gas, and loss of ductility due to aging. ORNL has also been involved in selecting and characterizing commercial heat-resistant stainless alloys, like HR120 or the new AL20-25+Nb, that should offer dramatically improved recuperator capability and performance at a reasonable cost. This paper summarizes research on sheets and foils of such alloys over the last few years, and suggests the next likely stages for manufacturing recuperators with upgraded performance for the next generation of larger 200–250 kW advanced microturbines.

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