United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Yacht sail material tests begin on turbine blades

The design features an internal composite structure and high-tech textiles and is up to 24% lighter than it would be if it was made of fibreglass typically used in wind turbine blades.

ACT Blade is a subsidiary of UK yacht-sail developer SMAR Azure (pic: Vedran Rozic)
ACT Blade is a subsidiary of UK yacht-sail developer SMAR Azure (pic: Vedran Rozic)

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A subsidiary of a yacht-sail developer has adapted its parent company’s technology to create an ultra-lightweight offshore wind turbine blade.

ACT Blade, a subsidiary of UK yacht-sail developer SMAR Azure, used the light, durable structure of yacht sails to make offshore wind turbine blades.

This allows the blade length to increase by up to 10% compared to a fibreglass design.

Increasing the rotor swept area boosts annual energy production by 9% and cuts the levelised cost of energy by 6.7%, ACT Blade claimed.

The manufacturer said, internally the blade “is made of conventional composite structures used in the wind industry”, while the overlying textile is “a fabric similar to sailcloth to cover the entire blade”.

“I realised that the offshore wind industry was engaged in the same race as we were in the yacht-racing world — we need to reduce loads and capture more wind power without compromising on durability," said CEO Sabrina Malpede.

The manufacturer carried out tests on individual blades at ORE Catapult’s test centre in north-east England

One of the company’s 13-metre prototype blades underwent three weeks of testing to assess its structural integrity and durability. A post-test inspection showed it held its shape without damage.

Researchers are now analysing optically measured strain and deflection results from within the blade's textile to gain a fuller understanding of the blade’s behaviour.

Malpede believes the initial test results prove the developer’s concept.

It now aims to prepare three of its blades for installation on a working turbine at the 1.9MW Myres Hill Myres Hill (1.9MW) OnshoreEast Renfrewshire, Southern Scotland, UK, Europe Click to see full details wind farm in Renfrewshire, western Scotland later this year.

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