In May 2021, Verdant Power performed a retrieve-and-replace operation during which one of the turbines will be replaced with a rotor housing three thermoplastic blades manufactured by NREL.
(Photo By Paul Komosinski)
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers have been exploring the use of thermoplastic composite materials for wind turbines for several years, but they have only just begun to scrape the surface of how these materials perform underwater. For the first time in history, thermoplastic composite blades, which have the potential to revolutionize the marine energy industry, are being tested on a large-scale tidal power turbine.
Previous laboratory-scale research performed at Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER) demonstrated how thermoplastic materials can improve fatigue performance, decreasing the probability for catastrophic blade failures and making tidal turbine blades more sustainable for marine energy applications. The manufacturing process is also faster and more energy efficient. Additionally, thermoplastics, which make up about 75% of worldwide plastic production, can be recycled because the plastic polymer material can be remolded at high temperatures and resolidifies upon cooling.
Thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office and a collaboration with Verdant Power, NREL researchers have constructed turbine blades using thermoplastic composite materials and are now testing them on one of Verdant Power’s tidal turbines, which are currently deployed in New York City’s East River.
Evaluation of the loads and performance of the turbines at the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) project site in New York began in October 2020 with the installation of Verdant Power’s TriFrame mount, which holds three tidal turbines. Because of strong tidal currents that change direction multiple times per day, the East River is an ideal location for testing and validating the performance of marine energy turbines. Both the TriFrame and three-bladed turbines were designed to be modular and scalable, allowing researchers to study the 5-meter (m)-diameter turbines and then scale them up to the more economically viable 10- to 15-m-class turbine systems that are more likely to be used in the field.
During their first 6 months in the water, the tidal turbines, which initially had epoxy blades, generated almost 200 megawatt-hours of energy—a U.S. record for marine energy production. After a 6-month deployment, in May 2021, the Verdant Power team performed a retrieve-and-replace (R&R) operation, swapping out one of the epoxy-bladed rotors with a new, NREL-manufactured rotor with thermoplastic blades that are identical to the original epoxy blades except for their material.
For several months prior to the R&R deployment, NREL Research Engineer Robynne Murray and her team have been tapping into the manufacturing and materials characterization capabilities at NREL’s Composites Manufacturing Education and Technology (CoMET) facility. There, they built the 2.5-m blades using a vacuum infusion method with Elium thermoplastic resin. They then worked to confirm that these blades had similar structural performance to the traditional epoxy resin blades prior to deployment, structurally validating the full-scale, thermoplastic, tidal power turbine blades that are now generating power in the East River. After its trial run ends and the blades are retrieved by the end of 2021, the team will measure the blades’ structural response to applied loads to quantify the impact of seawater on these materials.
“Verdant Power provided the NREL team with the blade tooling and geometry details so we could produce thermoplastic blades that are identical to the epoxy blades that they’ve already manufactured, which allows us to do a side-by-side comparison with traditional materials,” Murray said. “We’re really interested in using these thermoplastic materials because they could potentially prolong the life of the blades and have improved structural properties for marine applications.
An NREL-built data acquisition system sits inside the tail cone of the newly installed tidal turbine, allowing researchers to measure the strain and angular position of the thermoplastic blades while in action in the East River. The data acquisition system design and validation process, which included submerging the system in water for several days, meets several requirements, including the ability to continuously and reliably acquire, measure, and store all the data generated during the turbine’s entire deployment period—estimated to be up to 28 gigabytes.
“This work will demonstrate a potentially game-changing material for marine applications at a meaningful scale,” Murray said. “It will also produce strain and acceleration data for full-scale turbines that we can use to validate design tools and derisk future deployments, industrywide. The collaboration with Verdant Power and the ability to join their innovative R&R operation has been key to obtaining these data that will benefit the marine energy industry for years to come.”
Since the May 2021 R&R, NREL’s tidal turbine has been producing power for New York City’s electric grid and even experienced some of the highest loads the blades will see during the deployment. That data will be particularly useful in examining how these turbines perform during the most extreme conditions, adding key information to the growing understanding of operational turbine limits and saturated thermoplastic materials and their promise to resolve tomorrow’s marine energy challenges.
This summer, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will be performing a survey of the TriFrame’s flow speeds at the RITE Project site to obtain flow data for the operational tidal turbines. These data will be used to validate flow velocity models, which will be publicly accessible to the marine energy industry.
Until its deployment ends, the NREL team watches and waits while their thermoplastic blades help generate tidal energy at scale for the first time.
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- AST Marine Sciences Rebrands as Applied Telematics
Applied Telematics is the new name for AST Marine Sciences Limited, a provider of remote monitoring and asset management ...
- Sustainable marine fuels should meet expansive criteria
Maersk, are taking action to reduce emissions and transition to more sustainable fuels. But guidelines on what makes a marine fuel sustainable have yet to be established. The Sustainable Shipping ...
- Harland & Wolff Set to Receive Marine License for Gas Project, Shares Rise
By Joe Hoppe Harland & Wolff Group Holdings PLC shares rose Wednesday after it said that the marine license for its Islandmagee gas storage project ...
- Gazelle Wind Power Selected as 2021 S&P Global Platts Energy Awards Finalist
Gazelle Wind Power, the developer of a unique floating wind platform, has been named a finalist in the 23rd annual S&P Global Platts Global Energy Awards in two categories: Emerging Technology of the.
- CAN - Sustainable Marine hires Seasystems for floating tidal mooring job
Sustainable Marine Energy has commissioned Seasystems to supply adjustable mooring tensioners for the 420kW PLAT-I tidal energy platform that will be installed in the Bay of Fundy in Canada.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Tidal power turbine
- Power Semiconductor Market Size, Global Industry Trends, Share, Report 2021-2027
In 2020 the global Power Semiconductor market size was US 43750 million and it is expected to reach US 62800 million by the end of 2027 with a Compound Annual Growth Rate CAGR of 5 3 during the ...
- Could tidal energy be an option to solve power woes?
Tidal energy could make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation movement if it is able to get off the ground and scale up to become competitive in the energy market. Tidal energy is power ...
- Is It Time To Invest In Tidal Energy?
On paper, tidal energy has the potential to provide the clean and reliable energy that the world is currently desperate for, but both financial institutions and environmentalists appear uncertain abou ...
- Seasystems to Supply Mooring Solution for Floating Tidal Energy Array
Now these water masses will create electricity through the establishment of the world's first floating tidal power array, the Pempa’q In-stream Tidal Energy Project. Seasystems contributes with ...
- EY sounds alarm over Sanjeev Gupta-backed tidal energy firm
Simec Atlantis Energy, whose majority shareholder is linked to steel magnate's GFG Alliance, has flagged uncertainties over its finances ...