Funded by the US Department of Energy's Wind and Water Power Technology Office, in 1989 Sandia National Laboratories and Montana State University began testing and reporting on the use of fiber-reinforced composites and other materials to make wind turbine blades. Now that data, along with many supporting publications, is being made available to the public. The database contains more than 16,000 tests on 500 materials.
The DoE funded this research to support the industry and research communities, and because increasingly longer wind turbine blades have a large impact on energy capture and reduction in the levelized cost of energy (LCOE), according to an article in Sandia Labs' August 2015 Wind & Water Power Newsletter. Although today most blades are 40 to 45 meters long, by 2020 blades longer than 50 meters will probably be the norm around the world, as engineers design turbines with higher power ratings and turbines that operate at lower wind speeds. But this aggressive growth also brings technical and economic challenges. Blade designers have therefore needed a continually improving understanding of how composite materials actually behave in real-life wind turbines.
Researchers at Montana State University's Composite Technologies Research Group have continued to conduct tests and report key data and trends of how fiber-reinforced polymer composites and other materials perform in the construction of wind turbine blades, and additional structures. This year, they compiled the results in a database, accompanied by technical papers that explain key trends.
Recent additions to the database include unidirectional and + 45 static and fatigue results for three epoxy resin systems (Hexion 035, 135 and 145) with fiberglass fabrics; static and fatigue results for Materia pDCPD and glass fiber composites; and updated references, contacts, and links to complete reports discussing data.
You can find out more about the database and fill out a form to download it on this page. Sandia Labs says entering your contact information will help researchers better understand the database's users, as well as notify users of updates and solicit feedback on possible improvements. Supporting publications can be found on this page on Sandia Labs' website, and from the Montana State University Composite Technologies Research Group.
Ann R. Thryft is senior technology editor, materials & assembly, for Design News. She's been writing about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for 27 years, covering manufacturing materials & processes, alternative energy, and robotics. In the past, she's also written about machine vision and all kinds of communications.