The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has outlined its ambition to boost the wind turbine blade designs of the future with investment in a state-of-the-art prototype blade manufacturing facility.
The ‘Additive Manufacturing for Wind Blades’ project will install an advanced manufacturing cell at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, UK, said to be capable of proving technologies that can reduce blade manufacturing costs, increase production speeds and explore the potential for new materials with a reduced environmental impact.
The blade facility will challenge traditional blade manufacturing processes by using sophisticated 3D robotic printing techniques, investigating the use of sustainable materials, as well as flexible and more productive manufacturing methods. The facility will also allow the rapid production of prototype blade enhancements such as vortex generators and edge erosion protection systems.
ORE Catapult plans to use the facility to directly support UK small to medium businesses (SMEs) and supply chain development to accelerate new and innovative prototype blade designs for application in the wind industry, as well as forging further ties with key players in industry, such as original equipment manufacturers and academia.
Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research and Disruptive Innovation director at ORE Catapult, said: “Our new Additive cell will allow us to quickly develop new blade design concepts and move from the drawing board to our test hall or development turbine in just a few days rather than months. The low-cost agile nature of this process is a game changer for the Catapult blades team, who will work with innovators to rapidly develop new and more sustainable designs for our booming sector.”