The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), an initiative driven by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is set to unveil a prototype of a nine-meter-long wind turbine blade.
The prototype blade, based on an existing design from previous work conducted by the DOE, represents a small-scale version of a utility-scale, multi-megawatt blade. The new blade, molded on tooling supplied by TPI Composites Inc., features innovations such as impact-resistant components; continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic parts; and exterior shell components produced with half the normal CO2 emissions commonly emitted in wind blade manufacturing, IACMI says.
“These innovations can be deployed in the near term in existing blade manufacturing plants,” says Derek Berry, IACMI’s Wind Technology Area director. “The ability to infuse at room temperature, demold more quickly and avoid post-cure – plus use of low-cost, carbon-fiber spar caps produced via high-speed pultrusion – all contribute to reductions in the levelized cost of energy, the key measure of wind turbine efficiency.”
The project was led by IACMI’s Wind Technology Area, based in the Denver area. Support came from IACMI’s headquarters; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; the DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office; and the Advanced Industries Program, administered by the Colorado Office of Economic Trade and Development.
A team of 11 industrial partners – including Arkema Inc., Johns Manville, TPI Composites Inc., Huntsman Polyurethanes, Strongwell, DowAksa USA, Chomarat North America, Composites One, SikaAxson, Creative Foam and Chem-Trend – provided materials and on-site fabrication support for blade component manufacturing and assembly. Pultruded spar caps were fabricated at Strongwell in Bristol, Va., and shipped to Colorado for incorporation into the blade shells.
The first public display of the blade occurred yesterday during an event in the Denver area. The blade is being transported to downtown Denver for display during the IACMI Winter 2017 Members Meeting, where details on the materials and fabrication process will be presented this week.