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GE and NREL research new blade materials

UNITED STATES: GE is seeking to lower the cost of energy with the development of a turbine blade using architectural fabrics.

The research project is being conducted with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

GE said the blade is made from fabrics used in the construction of buildings. The fabric is wrapped around a metal frame and tensioned around ribs running the length.

Most blades are built with fibre glass, although carbon fibre is increasingly being used. GE believes the new design could reduce costs by 25-40%.

Speaking about the project, Wendy Lin, GE principal engineer and leader for the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) project, said: "GE’s weaving an advanced wind blade that could be the fabric of our clean energy future.

"The fabric we’re developing will be tough, flexible, and easier to assemble and maintain. It represents a clear path to making wind even more cost competitive with fossil fuels."

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