Manufacturing centre helps innovate off-shore wind

Researchers at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) have supported the design and manufacture of a new “game-changing” off-shore wind turbine blade.

The new technology which is adapted from the sailing industry, produce more energy than traditional designs and is the result of a Innovate UK-funded project that saw consortium of northern research partners including the AMRC build and test the design alongside UK yacht-sail developer spin off ACT Blade.

John Halfpenny, technical lead at the AMRC Composite Centre, headed up the Sheffield team that worked on a 13 metre prototype blade alongside High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult colleagues at the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre, said: “This is a completely new type of offshore turbine blade developed by ACT Blade that could be a major disruptor in the renewable energy sector.

“Through cross-Catapult collaboration we have been able to combine and apply our world-leading expertise in lightweighting, advanced technologies, composites design and manufacture to take ACT Blade’s innovative idea, develop and improve the design to increase strength, stiffness and stability of the blade, and then assist with the novel manufacturing process.”

Dr Sabrina Malpede, chief executive of Edinburgh-based ACT Blade said the, “As a micro-innovative start up, we have a small but highly competent R&D team in aerodynamic structure and composite design,” she said. “As we were engaging with the engineering of the first prototype, we knew the AMRC was the right partner for us – providing the design for manufacturing support, assisting with advanced finite element analysis and, ultimately, supporting the manufacturing process.”

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