The efficiency of thermal power plants is related to operating steam pressure and temperature. In many countries the need to maximize performance and minimize emissions, provide an incentive to build new power plants. Improvements to design offer important benefits for these generating stations. An enabling technology to greater efficiency is also the development and use of engineering materials with superior properties. The new steels and other alloys offer significant advantages when plants must operate in ‘flexible’ mode. The greater material strength permits components to be made with lower wall thickness. However, it is important that the higher strength is not achieved at the expense of ductility since poor creep ductility is known to be one factor linked to ‘burst’ type fractures. This paper outlines EPRI collaborative work associated with the fabrication and operation of tempered martensitic steel components used in advanced power plant.

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