Start date: Apr 1, 2014,
End date: Mar 31, 2016
The design of advanced (composite) wind turbine blades continues to evolve, but central spar-like structures and bonded cores remain the primary load-bearing and profile supporting elements. Aside from structural inefficiencies, these configurations are complex and expensive to manufacture using existing processes. Construction methods, composite-metal connections and loading complexities present challenges for structural integrity, resulting in over-engineering, increased weight and variable reliability.The HPC-Blade project addresses all of these issues by pursuing a novel design and manufacturing solution for blade structures. The concept is drawn from expertise held within eStress Limited - structural analysis specialists within the aerospace industry. The HPC-Blade assembly facilitates the following technology shifts: progression from a spar and core configuration to a rib-based fully stressed blade skin; elimination of mechanically fastened or bonded composite-metal joints; an optimised and appropriate synthesis of composite and metallic materials.Our novel concept removes the requirement for over-engineering in terms of jointing and compressive instability, and manufacturing is simplified. This provides opportunities for weight saving, improved reliability, faster manufacture and lower cost. Finally, the design is scalable, offering benefits to composite blades of all sizes.Our consortium will research the detailed design, materials and manufacturing solutions required to exploit the HPC-Blade concept. Blades up to 6m in length will be tested within this project to prove the technology and enable SME exploitation. Application of the design philosophy and features to large scale turbine blades will require proof-of-principle results from this project and longer term testing. This project provides the SME consortium with opportunities to expand the IP landscape. We will then seek to secure licensing arrangements with global wind turbine manufacturers.
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