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Novel Composite Materials and Processes for Offshore Renewable Energy

Final Report Summary - MARINCOMP (Novel Composite Materials and Processes for Offshore Renewable Energy)

Project Website: www.marincomp.eu

“Novel Composite Materials and Processes for Offshore Renewable Energy” (MARINCOMP) (Grant no: 612531) is a European Commission, Marie Curie 7th Framework Programme funded Project, under the Industry Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) call: FP7-People-2013-IAPP. Marine renewable energy is a small but growing sector of the energy industry which is garnering particular attention in Europe due to the vast natural resources available. With respect to tidal turbines, there is the additional advantage that much of the technology used today for wind turbine blades can be readily transferred; however, the marine environment presents its own unique problems.
MARINCOMP aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind and tidal turbine blades (Figure 1) and enable the drive toward lower cost per kilowatt renewable energy for both industries, specifically:

1. To reduce the cost of offshore wind and tidal turbine blade structures
2. To jointly develop and optimise carbon-fibre reinforced composite materials which are tailored for long-term durability in the marine environment, and can be processed rapidly and cost-effectively
3. New software tools such as a fatigue life design tool which incorporates the effect of immersion in seawater, and a cost-performance model will be developed in the project
4. Provide a step change in the use of carbon fibre in large high volume composite structures

The MARINCOMP consortium is as follows: University College Cork, University of Ulster and the University of Edinburgh; Toray Carbon Fibers Europe, a company specialised in manufacture of carbon fibre; EireComposites, an SME with innovative composite manufacturing technology; Suzlon Blade Technology, a utility class wind turbine manufacturer; and Scotrenewables, a technology developer in floating tidal energy.

MARINCOMP has enhanced Industry-Academia collaboration through the seconding of staff between the participating organizations, thereby promoting knowledge transfer and skills exchange between the industry and academic sectors. In this project a total of 125 months of secondments were completed, the vast majority of which were international secondments. In all, a total of 32 researchers were involved in the project, each completing a minimum of 2 months’ secondment.

The MARINCOMP project has successfully brought forward the potential use of carbon fibre reinforced powder epoxy in marine energy blades (wind and tidal turbine blades) to TRL 6. The consortium has fully studied the technical and commercial prospects for these novel materials in marine renewable energy. Fundamental material properties (fibre and powder) have been investigated and optimised for static strength properties and fatigue durability in both dry conditions and seawater immersed states. Carbon fibre sizing and the cure conditions for the powder epoxies have been fully characterised and optimised process cycles developed for the production of thick section laminates, as would be experienced in wind turbine and tidal turbine blade applications.

Process recipes have been investigated for the use of novel 3D carbon fabrics and a novel thermoplastic polymer stitching has been developed in order to reduce delaminations in the materials. A novel strain sensor consisting of an embedded thin-foil resistance gauge has been demonstrated to have potential for structural health monitoring of the composites during processing and during lifetime operation. A cost model has been developed and validated and a commercialisation study has suggested that the major opportunity for carbon fibre epoxy in marine renewables exists in the spar caps of offshore wind turbine blades. Finally, an industrial demonstrator part (Figure 2), representing the glass-fibre/carbon fibre transition in a hybrid wind blade spar cap has been designed, processed using the new materials and mechanically tested in fatigue and ultimate loading. The results of the demonstrator testing clearly validates the design methods, materials and processes developed in the MARINCOMP project.

Dissemination of the project results was carried out though the project website, through 26 international conference presentations, 15 papers in refereed journals, numerous presentations at industry trade shows and events in materials and offshore renewable energy. The MARINCOMP International Symposium, “Novel Composite Materials and Processes for Offshore Renewable Energy”, was held in Cork, Ireland in September 2017. Featuring a number of internationally renowned speakers, presentations from MARINCOMP researchers and a panel discussion, the event was attended by over 60 delegates. Presentations can be downloaded from the project website at www.marincomp.eu