Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Iowa Power Fund helps Iowa State establish Wind Energy Manufacturing Laboratory

14.09.2009
It’s not easy to make the machines that convert wind to electricity.

Just consider the turbine blades that spin in the wind: a single blade can be 40 to 50 meters long and 12,000 to 15,000 pounds. It has to be built within millimeters of specifications. It has to be built to withstand 20 years of harsh conditions in the field. And it has to be built to handle speeds up to 200 miles per hour at the tip.

Iowa State University researchers are working with researchers from TPI Composites, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company that operates a turbine blade factory in Newton; and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., to improve the process currently used to manufacture turbine blades.

The researchers’ work is supported by a three-year, $6.3 million project called the “Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Initiative.” One third of the project’s funding is from the Iowa Power Fund, a state program to advance energy innovation and independence. TPI Composites and the U.S. Department of Energy are also providing equal shares of funding.

The grant will allow Iowa State to establish a Wind Energy Manufacturing Laboratory on campus. The lab will feature the work of four faculty researchers: Matt Frank, Frank Peters and John Jackman, all associate professors of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, and Vinay Dayal, an associate professor of aerospace engineering. The grant will also support the research of five graduate students and several undergraduates.

The researchers’ goal is to develop new, low-cost manufacturing systems that could improve the productivity of turbine blade factories by as much as 35 percent.

“The current manufacturing methods are very labor intensive,” Jackman said. “We need to improve throughput – we need to get more blades produced every week in order for it to be economical to continue to produce wind energy components in the United States.”

Peters said possible manufacturing improvements include developments in automation and quality control.

Peters said Iowa State’s new lab will initially work with smaller versions of the molds used to manufacture fiberglass turbine blades. The lab will allow the researchers to study blade manufacturing in a controlled setting while they look for ways to boost efficiency. Eventually, the lab could also study the manufacturing of wind towers, the nacelles that sit atop the towers, gearboxes and other wind energy components.

Dayal, who’s also a faculty associate with Iowa State’s Center for Nondestructive Evaluation, said the lab will also look at developing new ways for manufacturers to inspect blades without taking them apart. Faster, better inspections are another way to improve factory efficiency and blade reliability.

The researchers said Iowa State is uniquely positioned to study wind energy manufacturing. Iowa, which has an installed wind energy capacity of 2,790 megawatts, is second in the country in wind power production. And Iowa is one of only two states that are home to manufacturing facilities for wind energy turbines, blades and towers.

“With this project,” the researchers wrote in a project summary, “Iowa State University’s College of Engineering will become one of the leading academic institutions working on wind energy manufacturing.”

But there’s more at stake here.

“This project is all about making wind energy a reality,” Frank said. “How do we make an impact on the U.S. energy profile? To do that, we have to develop manufacturing technologies that can economically make a lot of these components.”

About TPI Composites Inc.
TPI Composites is a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based leading blade supplier to the wind energy movement. TPI delivers high-quality, cost-effective composite solutions through long-term agreements with the industry’s leading manufacturers, including GE Energy and Mitsubishi Power Systems. TPI operates factories throughout the U.S., Mexico and China. For more information, see www.tpicomposites.com.
About Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corp., a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness. For more information, see www.sandia.gov/index.html.
Contacts:
Matt Frank, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, (515) 294-0389, mfrank@iastate.edu
Frank Peters, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, (515) 294-3855, fpeters@iastate.edu
Vinay Dayal, Aerospace Engineering, (515) 294-0720, vdayal@iastate.edu
John Jackman, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, (515) 294-0126, jkj@iastate.edu

Mike Krapfl | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.sandia.gov/index.html
http://www.tpicomposites.com
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>