June 12, 2018

More than 130 composites and wind energy technicians, engineers, and business women and men gathered at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) outside of Boulder, CO for the two-day composites training workshop, Advances in Wind Energy: Exploring Advanced Materials and New Repair Techniques for the Wind Industry, hosted by Composites One, the Closed Mold Alliance, in partnership with IACMI – The Composites Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Neil Smith from Composites One uses a closed mold injection molding process to create a composite part. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

Attendees gathered at the NWTC to gain hands-on experience through presentations, virtual reality sessions, and demonstrations of both commonly used and novel composites manufacturing practices. Highlights to the workshop include a presentation on future trends in the wind energy sector from GE Renewable Energy’s Sr. Advanced Manufacturing Engineer, Nick Althoff; a discussion on the principles of damage repair of composite structures from Abaris Training’s president, Michael Hoke; an overview of the developing international standards for wind blade design and manufacturing from NREL’s Senior Wind Technology Engineer and IACMI’s Wind Technology Area Director, Derek Berry; and finally demonstrations from Jeff Grandgenett of Mankiewicz on blade putty and edge protection as well as blade infusion using Chomarat F-flow 500L, presented by representatives from Chomarat, Chem-Trend, Vectorply, Polynt, and Composites One. The workshop concluded with a tour of the NWTC, in which participants were able to see and learn more about dynamometer testing and wind turbine field testing.

Jeff Grandgenett from Mankiewicz and Jeff Reber with Composites One present the process of blade repair and protection utilizing blade putty. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

“Advances in Wind Energy allowed many wind energy workers to gather together at the NWTC, an influential wind testing site, to learn more about the techniques necessary to strengthen the sustainability of wind turbines, leading to further integration of wind power into the U.S. energy sector,” said IACMI CEO John A. Hopkins. “As the wind energy sector continues to gain momentum, new topics are necessary to provide a strong base for repairing and maintaining blades and turbines. IACMI is committed to training workers necessary to fully increase wind energy sustainability in the U.S. energy sector.”

Composite competency is essential for the U.S. energy sector as composite materials are an essential component of wind turbine rotor blades, and the wind turbine composite material market is expected to reach $12,746.8 million by 2023. IACMI’s workforce development and technical goals serve to fill the need in technological advancements and workforce growth to meet the future market for energy sustainability in the U.S.