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Nazanin Janne 2
Dr. Jan Ukonsaari (Senior R&D Engineer Vattenfall AB, R&D) and Nazanin Emami, professor of machine elements at Luleå University of Technology. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Researchers lead major project in the energy sector

Published: 26 April 2022

Luleå University of Technology has been granted a Vinnova project in collaboration with Vattenfall and several other companies in the energy sector. The purpose of the project is to increase the service life and durability of turbines in hydropower plants.

The total budget for the project, which started in mid-April 2022, is just over eight million kronor. The strategic innovation program SIO Grafen and Vinnova contribute a little more than half and other industry partners contribute the remaining capital.

The goal is to develop and validate a self-lubricating layer with graphene and 2D material (crystalline material consisting of one layer of atoms), among other things to increase the life of turbines in hydropower plants.

- We are very happy that SIO Grafen and Vinnova are investing in this large demo project based on results from our previous research projects together with Vattenfall. Graphene and other 2D materials are an important part of future functional materials in many sectors, says Nazanin Emami, professor of machine elements at Luleå University of Technology.

Withstand high loads

Kaplan turbines are widely used worldwide for electricity production. They are one of the most common turbines in Swedish hydropower plants and are particularly suitable where there is a high flow.

For Kaplan turbines to function and be efficient for a long time, the bearings in their impellers need to be durable and withstand high loads with low friction and abrasion and weight. Previous research results show that the implementation of graphene and 2D materials can significantly improve these properties.

This saves money and makes it more environmentally friendly because the improved properties of the bearings increase the life of both bearings and other mechanisms. In the end, it ensures the competitiveness of an oil leak-proof design that can begin to take larger market shares outside the Nordic region as well.

- The project is in phase with the need for the role of hydropower in optimizing renewable energy in northern Sweden where fossil-free future is planned in several industries and we look forward to an interesting and exciting material development project together with our industry partners, says Nazanin Emami.

The project will run for three years and give the opportunity to, together with Vattenfall, be able to research closer to the industry, together with more industry partners at higher Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). TRL is a type of measurement system used to assess the level of maturity for a particular technology. Some of these partners are Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, Fortum Sweden, Sustainalube, Statskraft Statkraft Sverige and Skellefteå kraft.


Nazanin Emami

Nazanin Emami, Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 491939
Organisation: Machine Elements, Machine Elements, Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics