The Composites Institute Facilitates Thermoplastic Composite Development for Wind Turbine Blades through Innovative Project

“Partnering with industry leaders to advance thermoplastic-based composites will allow us to reach ambitious technical impact goals,” said Bryan Dods, IACMI-The Composites Institute CEO.

Image: IACMIImage: IACMI

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, IACMI, a Manufacturing USA institute driven by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the U.S. Department of Energy, in partnership with Johns Manville, Arkema Inc., TPI Composites Inc., National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Colorado School of Mines (CSM), University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Vanderbilt University and Purdue University, announces a current project focused on thermoplastic composite advancements for wind turbine blades. Developments in thermoplastic materials help enable large-scale production at lower costs, increase end-of-life recyclability and aid in job creation for American workers.

Thermoset composites reinforced by fiber are the current material of choice for large-scale wind turbine components; however, challenges in manufacturing costs, performance, and recyclability are limiting. IACMI will investigate new developments in thermoplastic materials with industry partners to lower production costs, improve recyclability of wind turbine blades and expand applicability to components demonstrated at large scale. The long term impact could reduce costs and improve reliability in composite structures, which allow for process improvements on a larger scale, increasing energy efficiency.

“Partnering with industry leaders to advance thermoplastic-based composites will allow us to reach ambitious technical impact goals,” said Bryan Dods, IACMI-The Composites Institute CEO. “These upcoming advancements will reduce life cycle energy use and strengthen manufacturing innovations in wind turbine blade production.”

Project partners include: new industry partner Arkema, Inc., who will expand the work plan to include their innovative Elium® resin system—a novel thermoplastic liquid resin that makes it possible to produce continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic parts using typical closed mold thermoset processes, and the Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) teams from Vanderbilt University and University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Simulation tools will be developed in conjunction with Purdue University and Convergent Manufacturing Technologies. A newly commissioned facility at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), the Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) lab, will fabricate proof of concept panels in conjunction with Johns Manville and Arkema, while the NREL National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) will manufacture full-scale blade components in the new Composites Manufacturing Education and Technology (CoMET) facility.

IACMI, blades, thermoplastic, project, wind energy, turbines

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