Sandia researchers identify commercial viability of carbon fiber composites for wind turbine blades

October 21, 2019 4:30 pm Published by

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Montana State University recently completed a two-year study demonstrating the commercial viability of cost-competitive carbon fiber composites selected for use in wind turbine blades. Sandia researcher Brandon Ennis will be among those presenting the final test results and project progress at the CompositesWorld 2019 Conference in Knoxville, Tenn., during a pre-conference seminar (registration required) Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Throughout the project, industry interest—ranging from turbine OEMs and blade manufacturers to carbon fiber material suppliers—has been extensive. Project team members characterized a novel heavy-tow carbon fiber derived from the textile industry and found improved cost-specific mechanical properties in stiffness and compressive strength compared to a commercial baseline carbon fiber common to the wind industry.

Due to its higher cost, wind manufacturers have historically avoided using carbon fiber. However, the novel textile-based carbon fiber material used for spar caps during this study was found to cost 40% less in representative wind turbine designs than commercial carbon fiber, possibly allowing the broader adoption of carbon fiber materials in wind turbine blade design with the potential to reduce system costs.

CompositesWorld’s 2019 Carbon Fiber Conference will take place at the Holiday Inn Knoxville-Downtown Nov. 19th-21st and offers attendees the opportunity to discuss new developments for carbon fibers in emerging industrial markets, such as wind energy, marine, and construction, as well as in traditional markets, such as aerospace and sporting goods. Methods to streamline manufacturing costs in both industrial and aerospace applications, and the outlook for consumption in markets with significant potential for growth will be the focus of discussions.

To learn more about the pre-conference event and the highlighted composites project, visit DOE’s event listing.

To learn more about wind energy research at Sandia, visit Sandia National Laboratories’ Wind program and DOE’s WETO.