GE Renewable Energy, GE Research and LM Wind Power have been selected by the US Department of Energy to research the design and manufacture of 3D-printed wind turbine blades.
The GE business units will partner with the Oakridge National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab on a 25-month $6.7m (€5.58m) project to develop and demonstrate an integrated additive manufacturing process for novel high- performance blade designs for the future of large rotors.
The project will deliver a full-size blade tip ready to be structurally tested, as well as three blade tips that will be installed on a wind turbine.
The proposed project will focus on low-cost thermoplastic skin coupled with printed reinforcement.
It is hoped the project will advance the competitiveness of both onshore and offshore wind energy when commercialised, by lowering manufacturing cost, increasing supply chain flexibility, providing lighter weight blades made with more recyclable materials.
Design cycle time is also reduced enabling more wind farm optimization, which will yield further increases in farm annual energy production and reductions in the levelised cost of energy.
GE Renewable Energy advanced manufacturing leader Matteo Bellucci said: "We are excited to partner with the DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office, as well as with our world’s class partners to introduce a highly innovative advanced manufacturing and additive process to completely revolutionise the state of the art of wind blade manufacturing.
"Additive manufacturing can bring a step change in cost and performance competitiveness in the wind industry and help GE Renewable Energy support our customers in driving the energy transition farther and faster.”
LM Wind Power senior director for advanced technology systems and chief engineering Torben K Jacobsen said: "This grant will greatly help LM Wind Power to accelerate our advanced design and manufacturing technology programme.
"It is also a clear acknowledgement of the advanced technical engineering capabilities in our two technology hubs in Greenville, and New Orleans.
"We look forward to work with our partners in this programme and deliver tangible outcomes including the use of recyclable materials and reduced manufacturing waste.”