Wed, 15 July, 2020
Advanced composite technologies are becoming critical in wind turbine blade production. Pultrusion is a manufacturing process that improves the efficiency of manufacturing blade components, lowers costs and improves composite quality. The HIPPAC project is currently developing an advanced digital tool that will improve pultrusion productivity and enable the development of pultruded parts that are currently not technically or economically possible to produce.
Increasing wind energy demands require advances in the wind power industry and particularly in the production and quality of the wind turbines. In the last 20 years, blade sizes have increased from 15m (0.05 kW) to 100m (8-10 MW) and, in the next decade, wind turbines radii are expected to reach 150-200m (12-20 MW) in order to increase power output and capacity factors. However, larger blades experience greater stresses and need additional reinforcement, which comes at an increased cost and weight. Heavier blades have higher values of inertia and require a higher minimum wind to generate power. They also require larger supporting structures, inducing costs and design limitations. To meet these challenges, the focus is on enhancing the quality of the wind turbines and the production of lighter, stronger and more cost-effective parts.
HIPPAC’s ambition is to develop a new pultrusion model that will go well beyond the current state of the art in pultrusion modelling and produce practical digital tools to improve and integrate existing technologies. The developed digital tool will allow for the rapid design of the pultrusion line prior to implementation, with integrated in-line quality control and improved process control in a tailored and original way. This improved pultrusion process will be utilised for manufacturing advanced carbon fibre reinforced spar caps, which are key structural elements inside wind turbine blades.
HIPPAC’s aim to improve and facilitate the utilisation of pultrusion to develop new advanced composites profiles is addressed though the following objectives:
- Development of a digital tool to accelerate pultrusion die design and line set-up
- Implementation of innovative process controls
- Improvement of productivity, as well as part quality and properties
- Reduction of production costs by 20% - currently, pultrusion saves 9% on spar cap production costs compared to infusion
HIPPAC will enable research on digitalisation through the development and implementation of new advanced digital tools that will improve turnaround and reduce wastage as well as enhancing productivity and part properties. These tools will make simulation easily accessible to pultrusion manufacturers and allow end users to assess part performance more accurately prior to implementation. The new applications will support not only the wind sector but also the aerospace, construction and automotive industries, where pultrusion is becoming increasingly prevalent. HIPPAC will also have a significant environmental and societal impact, supporting increased electricity demands and reducing carbon emissions to help achieve UK environmental targets.
The partners include:
TWI Ltd, Exel Composites Ltd, ADVISE-DETA Ltd, Brunel Composites Centre, Brunel University London
UK Research and Innovation
This project has received funding from Innovate UK, as part of a UK-US partnership under grant agreement number 105797.
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