GE has been granted funding by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to research the design and manufacture of 3D printed wind turbine blades.
The $6.7 million (£4.8m) project will see GE Research, GE Renewable Energy and LM Wind Power, a GE Renewable Energy business, work with the Oakridge National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop and demonstrate an integrated additive manufacturing process for novel high-performance blade designs for the future of large rotors.
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, focusing on low-cost thermoplastic skin coupled with printed reinforcement.
It is expected to advance the competitiveness of both onshore and offshore wind energy when commercialised, by lowering manufacturing costs, increasing supply chain flexibility and providing lighter weight blades made with more recyclable materials.
Matteo Bellucci, GE Renewable Energy Advanced Manufacturing Leader said: “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 revolutionise 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.”