PRF Composite Materials helps Cranfield University with new wind turbine design
PRF Composite Materials were selected as suppliers of the epoxy resin system and glass roving for a composite structures design and manufacturing project led by Andrew Mills at Cranfield University’s Composites Centre.
The NOVA project addresses the affordability of the scale up of UK offshore wind energy generation with a vertical axis wind turbine concept, known as VAWTS.
In order to investigate the affordability and practicality of manufacturing the world’s largest turbine, a 10MW machine, an Energy Technologies Institute- and EPSRC-funded feasibility study took place. A smaller scale 50KW concept demonstrator with a pair of 10m length carbon and glass fibre reinforced sails, known as APP, was designed and manufactured at Cranfield and funded by the ERDF.
The ground-breaking structure of these turbines, with two 160m length arms which support two 80m V-shaped sails, partly negates the horizontal load which acts to overturn the superstructure in conventional wind turbines. This means that the size required for the undersea support can be reduced, which minimises cost and improves accessibility for maintenance.
The project required a resin system that would provide a balance between long temperature curing and long gel time at room temperature. A two part epoxy resin, supplied by PRF, provided the required attributes of low viscosity (≈300 mPa.s), a gel time of 3-4 hours for thick sections at 22°C, and a glass transition temperature of ≈72°C after 24 hours at 50°C.