Sandia National Laboratories’ Brandon Ennis holds a carbon fiber plank, a new material that could bring cost and performance benefits to the wind industry.

Carbon fiber optimized for wind turbine blades could bring cost, performance benefits

February 8, 2021 7:29 pm Published by

A new carbon fiber material could bring cost and performance benefits to the wind industry if developed commercially, according to a study led by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories.

Wind blades containing carbon fiber weigh 25% less than ones made from traditional fiberglass materials. That means carbon fiber blades could be longer than fiberglass ones and, therefore, capture more energy in locations with low wind. A switch to carbon fiber could also extend blade lifetime because carbon fiber materials have a high fatigue resistance, said Brandon Ennis, a wind energy researcher at Sandia Labs and the principal investigator for the project.

The project is funded by DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Partners on the project include Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Montana State University.

Ennis said of all the companies producing wind turbines, only one uses carbon fiber materials extensively in their blade designs. Wind turbine blades are the largest single-piece composite structures in the world, and the wind industry could represent the largest market for carbon fiber materials by weight if a material that competed on a cost-value basis to fiberglass reinforced composites was commercially available.

Read the complete article in Lab News. Click to learn more about the Sandia Wind program.