Offshore wind farms are a promising form of renewable energy; however, the large mechanical forces and corrosive conditions shorten turbine blade life. New designs and materials may improve matters.
The WALID (Wind blade using cost-effective advanced composite lightweight design) project aims to supply the necessary innovations. The 15-member consortium plans cheaper, lightweight and more durable blades, using thermoplastic composites. Such goals will be achieved via research into integrated approaches to blade materials, designs and manufacturing.
WALID adopts four main pathways, exploring different designs, materials and combinations. The four-year partnership concludes in early 2017.
Work started with designing a new blade. The stage also involved defining the required specifications for various parts, including coating, some of which incorporate new concepts. Based on the results, plus a relevant literature review, the team designed, manufactured, tested and validated a prototype. Data from use of the specimen yielded a promising simulation model for an up-scaled blade part.
Materials development proceeded from a pre-selected list of polymers having suitable properties. Hence, WALID produced and tested laminate plates, to be used for the simulation model. Nanoparticles have been introduced to the plate production process.
Certain kinds of thermoplastic grades and fillers have been selected for foaming trials. Trials have been conducted on a variety of materials, from which the project created master batches with a high level of filler loading. Foam materials have also been investigated as to their physical properties.
The project investigated various additional elements to the development, including web-shear concepts, reinforced tape materials and a predictive model of erosion resistance. The team reviewed applicable standards and conducted a life-cycle assessment and economic valuation.
WALID outcomes will include new materials and designs to be used in the creation of cheap, lightweight and recyclable turbine blades.

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