Skip to main content

Novel Composite Materials and Processes for Offshore Renewable Energy

Periodic Report Summary 2 - MARINCOMP (Novel Composite Materials and Processes for Offshore Renewable Energy)

MARINCOMP Periodic Report 31/03/17

Project website:

The main goal of the MARINCOMP project is to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of offshore wind and tidal turbine blades and enable the drive toward lower cost per kilowatt renewable energy for both industries. University College Cork (Project Coordinator), the University of Ulster and the University of Edinburgh are combining with industry partners Toray Carbon Fibres Europe - a supplier of carbon fibre; EireComposites - an innovative SME manufacturer, Suzlon Blade Technology - an offshore wind turbine manufacturer and Scotrenewables Tidal Power - a tidal turbine manufacturer; to meet these project goals.

The specific objectives of MARINCOMP are 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. New software tools such as a fatigue durability life design tool which incorporates the effect of immersion in seawater, and a cost-performance model are being developed in the project. Through an objective-driven transfer of knowledge (ToK) programme between industry and academia, MARINCOMP is coupling state-of-the art scientific knowledge in composite materials and processes with industrial knowledge in carbon fibres and large-scale composites processing to provide a step change in the use of carbon fibre in large, high volume composite structures.

For offshore wind turbines blades, the project goals are being achieved by reducing the quantity of expensive carbon fibre in the blade spar caps by providing materials and processes that use the material to its full advantage. This is being done by improving fibre straightness and eliminating wrinkles currently seen in wind turbine blade production, though process and fibre improvement.

Cost effective mass-manufacture of tidal turbine blades is being developed by providing materials and processes that can meet the challenges of a) the large laminate thickness required to withstand the high bending and torsional loads in tidal turbine blades; and b) the rapid transition section on tidal turbine blades from large diameter hubs to relatively flat aerofoil sections.

To allow the development of competitive composite materials and processing technologies for the marine renewable energy sector, the specific scientific and technological objectives of MARINCOMP are to:
1. Develop a manufacturing process for optimisation of thick (up to 150mm) carbon fibre structures using a novel powder-epoxy formulation.
2. Develop the in-situ cure monitoring of thick (up to 150mm) carbon-fibre laminates using fibre-optic and associated sensing technologies.
3. Develop a database of composite durability properties in fatigue and seawater immersion and employ it in offshore wind blade designs.
4. Develop 3-D stitched carbon fabrics for transition regions of both tidal turbine and offshore wind turbine blades.
5. Develop a cost-performance-processing model for composites usage in marine renewable energy.

In Year 3 of the project, the following work has been completed:

• A preliminary fatigue durability test report has been produced
• Testing for the determination of best-in-class fibre sizing for carbon fibre immersed applications is ongoing with a detailed test plan in place.
• Further work and development of custom carbon tape line, manufacturing of laminates using tape produced, testing of specimens from tape produced.
• Fibre Optic Sensor integration report has been completed.
• Determination of the process recipe for demonstrator component with methodologies provided for uni/2D and majority of 3D woven materials.
• A report on out of plane stitching performance and cost has been drafted
• Finalise demonstrator design
• Validation of fatigue durability model against coupon data has taken place

The following dissemination activities have been carried out:
• 6 abstracts for been accepted for EWTEC 2017:
o Dimitrios Mamalis, Adrian Doyle, Conchur O Bradaigh: Powder Epoxy Reinforced with Carbon Fibre for Tidal Turbine Blades.
o James Maguire, Adrian Doyle, Conchur O Bradaigh: Manufacturing Thick-Section Tidal Turbine Blades using Low-Cost Fibre Reinforced Polymers.
o Dongning Zhao, Micheal Forde, Bryan Weafer, Finlay Wallace, Edward Archer, Alistair McIlhagger, James McLaughlin: Development of an Embedded Thin-film Strain-sensor-based SHM Network for Composite Tidal Turbine Blades.
o Vesna Jaksic, Finlay Wallace, Conchur O Bradaigh: Upscaling of Tidal Turbine Blades: Glass or Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymers?
o Thomas Dooher, Tomas Flanagan, Edward Archer, Alistair McIlhagger, Conchur 6 Bridaigh: Cost modelling of tidal turbine blades: Opportunities and challenges.
o Parvez Alam, Austin Lafferty, Conchur O Bradaigh: Mechanical Properties and Damage Analyses of Fatigue Loaded CFRP for Tidal Turbine Applications.
• A 3rd project newsletter has been published.
• A project flyer has been produced.
• Posters have been displayed at events such as the Marie Sktodowska-Curie Actions Conference ESOF Satellite Event.

Research papers have been presented at international conferences:
Maguire, J., Simacek, P. , Advani, S. ( University of Delaware, United States) and 6 Bridaigh, C.M "Through-thickness resin flow and heat transfer modelling of partially impregnated composite materials for thick-section parts", Proceedings of 13th International Conference on Flow Processes in Composite Materials (FPCM-13), Kyoto, Japan, July 2016
6 Bradaigh, C.M. Jaksic, V., Kennedy, C.R. and Leen, S.B. "Influence of composite fatigue properties on marine tidal turbine blade design". Presented at 2nd IFREMER-ONR: Durability of Composites in a Marine Environment Workshop, 24-25 August, Brest, France.

The ultimate deliverables are a novel manufacturing process for carbon fibre wind and tidal turbine blades which will reduce blade weight and improve mechanical properties, a database of composite fatigue durability properties in seawater and a validated a cost-performance-processing model for composites usage in marine renewable energy. A demonstrator blade will be manufactured using the new materials and processes, and an international workshop will be held to discuss the research results.