Director's Corner

Release Date: May 15, 2018

Hephaestus Doesn’t Work at NETL, but the Research of our Metallurgists is Almost as Miraculous


Hephaestus was the God of Metallurgy in Greek mythology. He had a pretty good run in ancient stories crafting impenetrable metals for Achilles’ armor, Hercules’ shield, Hermes’ helmet and even arrows for Apollo. At NETL, we take our metallurgy work seriously too, but instead of preparing mythological heroes for battle against make believe monsters, our work is crafting tough new alloys for turbines, boilers, and other equipment that can help meet energy efficiency challenges – heroic achievements as well.

It is important work because to keep modern power plants operating at levels that are efficient and effective, engineers need cost-effective advanced heat resistant steels, superalloys and novel materials that can withstand the incredible heat and pressure that new highly efficient processes require. That means creating new alloys that can resist mechanical stresses and corrosion and keep operating so that fossil fuels can continue to be used efficiently and in an environmentally friendly way.

This month, we will be posting a series of articles revealing some of the unique work underway in NETL’s alloy development laboratories. We will enlighten readers with stories like how NETL researchers:

  • Work to develop complex modeling methodology tools and manufacturing processes that can help innovate high-performance materials that are compatible with the extreme environments.
  • Experiment with the design, development, manufacture, and testing of advanced steels, superalloys and novel high-entropy alloys that can meet escalating efficiency improvement challenges and help create the next generation of energy industry hardware.
  • Characterize the properties of newly created materials to assess how they can be used in real-world settings like boilers, turbines, pipelines, and a host of other important products.
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How Hephaestus did it
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How NETL does it

NETL is internationally recognized for its leadership in designing, developing, and deploying advanced materials for use in energy applications and other extreme service environments. Since 2011, NETL’s Advanced Alloy Development capability has won five prestigious R&D 100 awards, ASM International’s Engineered Materials Award in 2015 and other awards.  More recently, the Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance recently selected a paper prepared by our researchers for designation as one of only five editor’s choice articles for 2017 – peer reviewed papers determined to be of technical importance and of interest to materials scientists around the world.

Hephaestus used a massive hammer and a gigantic forge. At NETL, we have advanced computers for high-performance alloy development, sophisticated software for metallurgical modeling, a team of talented and experienced researchers, and an impressively equipped alloy fabrication laboratory in Albany, Ore. Our world-class facility includes melt furnaces and thermal-mechanical processing equipment, to produce ingots and fabricate plates sheets, rods or other forms at scales that readily translate to industry. NETL is a complete alloy development facility, with capabilities and expertise needed to design, manufacture and evaluate materials performance in extreme environments, and provide materials solutions to improve the existing fleet and enable advanced energy systems.

We think you will find our stories on NETL’s advanced alloy development research as surprising as they are important for the energy future of our country.


As Acting Director of NETL, Sean I. Plasynski, Ph.D., builds on an extensive background in energy as he leads NETL in its mission to enhance the nation’s energy independence and protect the environment for future generations. For more information about Sean Plasynski's experience, please click here.