GE Gets U.S. DOE Grant to Build 3D Printed Wind Turbine Blades

February 5, 2021

Credit: LM Wind Power
Credit: LM Wind Power

GE Research, GE Renewable Energy, and LM Wind Power, a GE Renewable Energy business were recently selected by the Department of Energy to research the design and manufacture of 3-D printed wind turbine blades.

GE said Friday that its business units would partner with the Oakridge National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab on a 25-month $6.7M project to develop and demonstrate an integrated additive manufacturing process for novel high- performance blade designs for the future of large rotors.  

The award was announced by DOE on January 13. The project will deliver a full-size blade tip ready to be structurally tested, as well as three blade tips that will be installed on a wind turbine.

The proposed project will focus on low-cost thermoplastic skin coupled with printed reinforcement.

"This project will advance the competitiveness of both onshore and offshore wind energy when commercialized, by lowering manufacturing cost, increasing supply chain flexibility, providing lighter weight blades made with more recyclable materials. All of this will help reduce the cost of Wind Energy," GE said.

Design cycle time is also reduced enabling more wind farm optimization, which will yield further increases in farm annual energy production and reductions in the Levelized cost of energy, GE said.Credit: LM Wind Power

Matteo Bellucci, GE Renewable Energy Advanced Manufacturing Leader: “We are excited to partner with the DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office, as well as with our world’s class partners to introduce a highly innovative Advanced Manufacturing and Additive Process to completely revolutionize the state of the art of wind blade manufacturing. 

Additive Manufacturing can bring a step change in cost and performance competitiveness in the wind industry and help GE Renewable Energy support our customers in driving the energy transition farther and faster.” 

Torben K. Jacobsen, Senior Director Advanced Technology Systems and Chief Engineering, LM Wind Power: “This grant will greatly help LM Wind Power to accelerate our advanced design and manufacturing technology program. It is also a clear acknowledgement of the advanced technical engineering capabilities in our two technology hubs in Greenville, SC and New Orleans, LA. We look forward to work with our partners in this program and deliver tangible outcomes including the use of recyclable materials and reduced manufacturing waste.” 

Todd Anderson, Principal Investigator at GE Research , said, “Through GE’s Research Lab, we literally have an entire business portfolio at Wind’s back. Over the years, GE scientists have been successful at applying our legacy of materials and composites expertise in Aviation to the wind energy space. We were the first to introduce lightweight composite fan blades in our jet engines more than two decades ago.  Today, with our business partners and leading National Laboratories, we’re bringing that experience and more to deliver a more advanced wind blade to take wind power to the next level of cost and performance.”


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