The University of Dayton Research Institute says it has been awarded $270,000 to design and test fiberglass and resin materials and structures for towers to support wind turbines. The award comes from Ohio’s technology-supporting Third Frontier program. UDRI researchers are responding to the wind-energy industry’s interest in building taller towers to reach steadier and stronger winds. Composite materials could make it easier to transport the tower sections to a wind farm site, said Brian Rice, division head for multi-scale composites and polymers at the institute.
The challenge, says Rice, is to produce composites strong enough to support the loads of wind turbines that can weigh up to 100 tons, and resist buckling under the stress of the rotating machinery. Composites advantage are that they better resist corrosion than the steel, currently the material of choise for such towers.
UDRI researchers are working on a separate Air Force advanced-materials contract to develop smaller wind turbines from composites for generating power in remote military locations. That program, in cooperation with Twenty First Century Energy LLC, Fairborn, Ohio began in 2009. The Air Force is providing $1 million for the second year of the contract, research for which begins in May 2010, say UDRI officials.
UDRI has also received a $41,500 grant from the National Science Foundation in January to design and test sensors for wind turbines, to monitor the structural health of wind turbine blades, and provide warnings when they need repair or replacement. Mound Laser and Photonics Center Inc., Miamisburg, Ohio will manufacture the sensors.
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I heard a company in San Diego, ebert Composites Corporation is working on something similar in with the DOE. Would be interested in both designs…