November 26, 2008

Filed under: Composites, General — Tags: , , , — admin @ 4:17 pm

This past week in Palm Springs, CA the Fall Symposium for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) took place. With the troubling times in financial markets, and conventional energy costs low, the renewable energy sector is due for some slowing. Regardless of the current issues, the long term future of renewable energy, and wind in particular is still extremely bright.

At the conference, a major theme was the need to continue the push of technology advancements in wind turbine systems. The use of lightweight composite sandwich structures in wind blades is already prevalent, however, advancements are still needed. It is crucial that wind blades of the future use less material, become lighter, and the manufacturing becomes more reliable and automated.

Sandwich structures and their lightweight benefits will help lead this charge. New cost effective core materials are required; these need to be lightweight and exhibit high sheer properties, but cost will be the underlying issue. E-glass is the current predominant fiber reinforcement, however hybrid fabrics using limited amounts of carbon fiber could help lower weights without adding too much additional costs.

New resin systems and production techniques will help streamline manufacturing and lower defects and voids.

Wind blade manufacturers need to turn to composite experts and begin the adaptation of advanced composites, fiber, and sandwich techniques into wind blade manufacturing.

More info:

AWEA

Sandia Labs

NREL

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