Standardisation is vital for the testing of high
temperature materials used in safety-critical industries such as power
generation, surface transport, defence, aerospace and aeronautics.
The high temperature technology sector is of major
industrial and economic importance to the EU. It is therefore crucial
that Europe take a leading role in the development of international testing
According to Marc Steen of the Joint Research Centre's
Institute for Energy in the Netherlands, "Working towards harmonisation
in this field is a major priority for the Commission's measurements and
testing activities. A range of components can be affected by high temperatures,
including train wheels and brakes, aircraft and ship engines, components
used in gas turbines for power generation, and compressors for gas and
oil pipelines. Leaving this kind of research to laboratories elsewhere
would result in Member States adopting guidelines compiled without reference
to European industries."
In this context, the EU is funding a number of projects,
many of these were selected on the basis of the system of 'dedicated calls'
for thermo-mechanical fatigue testing (TMF-STANDARD)
Thermo-mechanical fatigue (TMF) is a major cause
of component failure in industrial machinery and structures exposed
to temperature conditions and mechanical loads that change over
time. TMF affects a range of components, including train wheels
and brakes, aircraft and ship engines, components used in gas turbines
for power generation, and compressors for gas and oil pipelines.
Efforts to improve the design, life prediction
and overall safety of components prone to TMF have been ongoing
for the past 30 years. A test analysing the performance of these
materials has been developed allowing researchers to 'tune' each
test to match the component's service conditions. However, this
flexibility makes it impossible to compare test results from different
labs. A validated standard for TMF testing is urgently needed.
Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) set up a working group
to draft a TMF testing standard. Progress towards achieving a balanced
document has been hampered because of the lack of pre-normative
R&D. The aim of this study is to coordinate EU input to the
ISO working group and to provide the technical basis that will enable
researchers to define all test-related aspects of the draft standard.
of high temperature materials (COTEST)
Failure of materials at high temperature can
have devastating consequences. For instance, in the case of aircraft
engine failure, it can mean expensive grounding periods for planes
or in extreme cases, i.e. mid-flight, serious loss of life. Improving
the performance of such materials is crucial.
In response to demands for a simple and cost-effective
way to assess material behaviour under high temperature, the cyclic
oxidation test was developed. While this is a most valuable testing
method, no guidelines exist allowing researchers to compare and
validate test results. To resolve this, researchers are developing
a set of testing guidelines. This will allow European manufacturers
to issue certificates with their high temperature materials proving
that their product has been tested following reliable guidelines.
It is estimated that certification will lead to a 5-10% increase
in European sales.
||Ceramic and carbon
fibres - validation of test methods (VAFTEM)
Fibres known as Ceramic Matrix Composites and
Carbon Matric Composites (CMCs) offer huge potential for high temperature
structural applications because of their superior thermal and mechanical
properties compared to conventional materials. CMCs are lightweight
and offer excellent resistance at extremely high temperatures (up
The EU currently dominates the CMC market in
several sectors. In order to safeguard this competitive edge, Europe
must reduce its dependence on fibres produced in the US and Japan.
Before this can happen, it is necessary to provide the industry
with a set of reliable test methods that will allow independent
determination of critical fibre property data.
A three-year EU-funded project currently underway
aims to develop these test methods. Once available, these tests
will lead to standards that are mutually agreed between manufacturers
and users of CMCs.
harmonisation of testing for creep crack growth (CRETE)
The need for accurate creep crack growth (CCG)
data for reliable assessment of high temperature components in the
nuclear and petrochemical industries is becoming urgent. This project
is aimed at developing and harmonising CCG data generation and analysis
"These projects are all very important,"
says Steen, "and under the dedicated calls system researchers
need no longer waste time preparing full-blown proposals which stand
little chance of being funded."
The European Union is funding a number of
projects contributing to the creation of testing methods used
to characterise the mechanical behaviour of materials at high
TMF-STANDARD - Thermo-mechanical
fatigue - the route to standardisation (G6RD-2001-00526);
COTEST - Cyclic oxidation
testing - development of a code of practice for the characterisation
of high temperature materials performance (G6RD-2001-00639);
VAFTEM - Ceramic and carbon
fibres: validation of testing methods (GRRD-2001-00523);
CRETE - Creep crack growth:
development and harmonisation of testing for new industrial specimens
- a route to a European code of practice (G6RD-2001-00527).