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Delegates are invited to meet and discuss with the poster presenters in this topic directly after the session 'Advanced rotor technologies' taking place on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 at 11:15-12:45. The meet-the-authors will take place in the poster area.

Heiko Rosemann Fraunhofer IWES, Germany
Co-authors:

(1) Fraunhofer IWES, Bremerhaven, Germany

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Presenter's biography

Biographies are supplied directly by presenters at EWEA 2014 and are published here unedited

Mr. Heiko Rosemann received his diploma’s degree in mechanical engineering/mechatronics from KIT in 2011 and started his current job as a research scientist at Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology in Bremerhaven, conducting certification tests of rotor blades and currently mainly working on automating parts of the production of rotor blades within the research project “BladeMaker”.

Abstract

Quality improvement and cost reduction by advancing automated manufacturing of rotor blades - BladeMaker

Introduction

Rotor blades for wind turbines have a significant (15%-20%) share of wind turbine costs. They are also determining loads and thereby costs for the other parts of the turbine. Current labor intensive manual manufacturing leads to high tolerances and imperfection resulting in high safety factors. Furthermore it reaches its limits with current and upcoming blade dimensions (length, max. chord and root diameter). Automated manufacturing in selected areas promises significant improvements leading to lower labor and material costs, higher reliability, higher blade value and ultimately lower cost-of-energy for the entire turbine.

Approach

The BladeMaker research project brings together the wind industry, material suppliers, process experts and automation technology suppliers to advance current automation concepts, develop new concepts, transfer ideas from other industries and validate them in a demo center.
The project is based on a detailed cost analysis of current 40m blades, modified by adding a flatback trailing edge as seen on most of today’s bigger blade designs. This analysis reinforces the project’s three main attack points: Use less material, use less costly materials, and replace manual labor for better quality, reproducibility and cost savings.


Main body of abstract

Big impacts on material costs can be made by cutting fiber costs, with core materials and adhesives also contributing significantly.
BladeMaker aims to replace UD non-crimp fabrics with rovings to cut the cost, with automated placement processes overcoming the difficulties which caused blade manufacturers to move to non-crimp fabrics in the first place.
Regarding core materials, BladeMaker makes use of higher accuracy and repeatability in automated production to develop a process to apply in-situ expanding polyurethane foam, potentially reducing the core material cost by almost one order of magnitude. Reduced tolerances also allow using less adhesive.
Labor costs mainly consist of fabric cutting and placement, for the biggest parts of which (spar caps, root section) BladeMaker will propose an automated solution. Automated processes for trimming and surface preparation will also be developed within BladeMaker.
The lack of a demonstration facility is a show-stopper for the introduction of automated rotor blade manufacturing technologies. Blade manufacturers will not automate (parts of) their production until there are prototypes working on parts with blade-typical dimensions, material properties and laminate thicknesses.
To bridge this gap, BladeMaker has developed and will build up a cost-effective demo center, capable of building the root section and the transition region of a 40m reference blade through any and all steps deemed reasonable for automation. It is designed to be scaled up to accommodate blades with a length of 80+m and root end diameters exceeding 4m.


Conclusion

BladeMaker is the first blade automation project to bring players from all relevant fields together and develop many different automation aspects, with a focus on the overall cost and quality impacts of these aspects.
Significant cost savings can be achieved by automated manufacturing allowing for tighter safety factors, less costly material alternatives and reducing manual labor.
The BladeMaker demo center will demonstrate the project results and allow blade manufacturers to gather first-hand experience with large-scale automation processes without disturbing the running blade production, thereby overcoming the difficulties of introducing automated processes into current rotor blade manufacturing.



Learning objectives
BladeMaker aims to find a guideline towards higher quality and less cost-intensive rotor blades, thereby decreasing the cost-of-energy of future wind turbines. An automation-optimized blade design with a detailed underlying cost model will be referenced to a current 40m-blade, showing in detail the potentials of automating specific steps in the rotor blade production. Tests in the demo center will validate future concepts for automatically building rotor blades.