New project researches 3D printing for wind turbine blades
The goal of the project between GE Research, GE Renewable Energy, and LM Wind Power is to use additive manufacturing to 3D-print blade tips, enabling the design of larger rotors.
GE Research, GE Renewable Energy, and LM Wind Power were recently selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to research the design and manufacture of 3D-printed wind turbine blades.
The GE business units will partner with the Oakridge National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab on a 25-month, US$6.7 million project to develop and demonstrate an integrated additive manufacturing process for novel high-performance blade designs for the future of large rotors.
The project – which was awarded by DOE on Jan. 13, 2021 – will deliver a full-size blade tip ready to be structurally tested, as well as three blade tips that will be installed on a wind turbine. The proposed project will focus on low-cost thermoplastic skin coupled with printed reinforcement.
According to GE, the project will advance the competitiveness of both onshore and offshore wind energy when commercialized, by lowering manufacturing cost, increasing supply chain flexibility and providing lighter weight blades made with more recyclable materials. The goal is to reduce design cycle time as well, potentially enabling more wind farm optimization, which will yield further increases in farm annual energy production and reduce levelized cost of energy.
“Through GE’s Research Lab, we have an entire business portfolio for wind,” said Todd Anderson, principal investigator at GE Research. “Over the years, GE scientists have been successful at applying our legacy of materials and composites expertise in aviation to the wind energy space. We were the first to introduce lightweight composite fan blades in our jet engines more than two decades ago. Today, with our business partners and leading national laboratories, we’re bringing that experience and more to deliver a more advanced wind blade to take wind power to the next level of cost and performance.”
Source: GE Research