Wind turbine production has become one of the world’s largest markets for plastic composites. Fiber-reinforced plastic is critical in the design and manufacturing of wind blades due to their loading requirements, size and weight. However, the production process is labor-intensive creating an economic disadvantage.
IACMI’s Wind Turbines Technology Area, located in Colorado, is focused on lowering the cost of wind energy while increasing the reliability of wind turbines. To reduce cost, improve quality, and increase recyclability, IACMI will target:
- Decreasing mold cycle time
- Integrating thermoplastic matrices into the current production process
- Augmenting the robustness of fabric placement through automation
- Conducting in-process nondestructive evaluations
Working with colleges and universities, composites companies, and national laboratories, IACMI is developing advanced composites manufacturing for turbine components including blades, hubs, and nacelles.
IACMI’s Wind Turbines Technology Area consists of a core partner, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and four supporting partner institutions including Colorado School of Mines; University of Colorado, Boulder; Colorado State University; and Iowa State University.
Capitalizing on the long and productive history of collaboration between NREL and the major wind industry OEM’s, including Vestas, GE, Siemens, TPI Composites and LM Windpower, IACMI’s Wind Turbine Technology Area is developing, testing and deploying transformational manufacturing methods, designs and materials that will result in increased penetration for wind power in the US energy market.