The aerodynamic design of the National Rotor Testbed (NRT) blade has been completed. The goal of the NRT rotor is to replicate the wake characteristics of a utility-scale rotor at the Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) test site.
This will let researchers at Sandia and other labs collect high-fidelity wake measurements and validate and calibrate wind turbine and wind farm computer models. Additionally, the NRT rotor blades will be used to demonstrate that blades can be manufactured through a process that uses molds constructed by additive manufacturing (3D printing).
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is leading the mold production, with blade manufacturer TPI Composites designing the molds and Sandia consulting. Completion of the aerodynamic design for this blade is an important milestone as it defines the blade’s outer shape and allows mold design and production to begin. Wetzel Engineering also played a critical role in defining the final blade shape and will be completing the final structural design. Blade manufacturing is scheduled for completion in summer 2016, followed by structural testing at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and flight testing into 2017