Since 1989, Sandia National Laboratories has partnered with Montana State University to test and report key data and trends of fiber-reinforced polymers (composites) and other materials used in the construction of wind turbine blades. The average wind turbine installed in 1989 had a power rating of 0.225 MW and a rotor diameter of 27m.
By the end of 2013, industry averages had increased to a 1.87 MW turbine and a 97 m rotor diameter. This considerable growth in blade length has put increasingly difficult technical and economic demands on blade designers, requiring a constantly improving understanding of composite material behavior in realistic wind applications.
Researchers at Montana State University have collected the results of over 12,000 tests into a publically available database and technical papers explaining key trends to meet this critical industry need.
Recent work has focused on a variety of areas relevant to the industry including:
- Commissioning of a substructure test facility, shown in Figure 3, to expand test capabilities beyond coupon testing which cannot easily capture the realistic and complex loading experienced by modern wind turbine blades.
- Through thickness laminate fatigue testing to complement existing 3-D composite properties which are an increasingly important to understand in the design of large blades.
- Testing and analysis of aligned strand laminates as a new material form with potentially enhanced manufacturing advantages over current materials.
Download the latest database (v.23.0).
Related publications can be accessed from the Sandia Wind website and the Montana State University Composite Technologies Research Group website.