(IACMI – The Composites Institute)

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, led a team of industry and government partners to fabricate an advanced technology wind turbine blade. The 9 meter long blade was fabricated at the Composites Manufacturing Education and Technology (CoMET) facility, located at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), part of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Eleven industrial partners, including Arkema Inc., Johns Manville, TPI Composites Inc., Huntsman Polyurethanes, Strongwell Corporation, DowAksa USA, Chomarat USA, Composites One, SikaAxson, Creative Foam and Chemtrend, provided materials and on-site fabrication support for blade component manufacturing and assembly. Pultruded spar caps were fabricated at Strongwell in Bristol, Virginia and shipped to the NWTC for incorporation into the blade shells. The project was led by the Wind Technology Area of IACMI, based at the NWTC, with support from IACMI, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), DOE, and the Colorado Office of Economic Trade and Development (OEDIT). The prototype blade is based on existing designs from previous work conducted by DOE, representing a small-scale version of a utility-scale multi-megawatt blade. The new blade, molded on tooling supplied by TPI Composites, Inc., features blade shells and shear web infused with Arkema’s novel Elium® reactive thermoplastic resin system, specialty thermoplastic-compatible glass fiber and sizing developed by Johns Manville for high interfacial adhesion to the Elium® resin system, pultruded carbon fiber spar caps using Huntsman’s RIMLINE® toughened polyurethane resin chemistry, in combination with a blend of commercial carbon fiber provided by Dow Aksa and low cost textile PAN-based carbon fiber produced at the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility at ORNL, and shear web and outboard shells produced with ArmaFORM® PET GR structural foam, supplied by Creative Foam, and made from 100% post-consumer PET.