Researches

Evaluation of Basalt Fibers on Wind Turbine Blades through Finite Element Analysis

Wind power is the second strongest growing renewable energy, with an annual growth rate of 34%. In 2009, it was demonstrated that compared with photovoltaic, geothermal, and hydropower energy, wind power presented the lowest relative greenhouse gas emission and the least water consumption. It is expected that by 2030, at least 20% of the United States’ energy need will be met by wind farms. To meet the 20% production goal in the next 15 years, both significant increases in wind turbine installations and an increase in wind turbine operability are required. Although eolic energy has had significant growth in recent years, there are still considerable challenges to improve efficiency and reduce production costs.

Necessary rock studies of the gabbro and andesite basalt groups for the suitability as the raw material base for the production of continuous basalt fiber (CBF). A unique technique including laboratory melting and pilot-industrial melting at the high-tech equipment.

The use of composite materials on wind turbine blades has gained popularity, and it represents a viable alternative for the construction of blades, driven by its lower weight, high stiffness ratio, and good resistance to loads. The stiffness of a composite material is determined by the stiffness of its fibers and their volume content. Typically, E-glass is used as the main reinforcement in the composites. With increasing volume content of the fibers in unidirectional composites, the stiffness, tensile, and compression strengths increase proportionally, yet at high volume content of fibers (after 65%), there might be dry areas without resin between fibers and the fatigue strength of the composite reduces. The development of fibers, which are stronger than E-glass fibers, has been the focus of multiple investigations, for example, S-glass (developed in the 1960s) shows 40% higher tensile and flexural strength and around 20% higher compressive strength and flexural modulus but is much more expensive than E-glass. S2-glass is a commercial version of S-glass with the same components but different in sizing and certification procedure, but still ten times the cost process of the E-glass. Carbon fibers are considered a promising alternative to glass fibers and show much higher stiffness and lower density, thus allowing the production of thinner, stiffer, and lighter blades. However, these have relatively low damage tolerance, compressive strength, and ultimate strain and are sensitive to the fiber misalignment and waviness, which leads to a strong reduction of compressive and fatigue strength. Due to the high production cost of carbon fibers, there are no prospects of mass application in the near future. Since 87% of the 8.7 million ton global fiber-reinforced plastic market is based on E-glass composites, there are opportunities to explore new, low-cost materials.

Currently, carbon and glass fibers are mainly used for the production of hybrid blades, but few studies have addressed the use of other fibers, such as the basalt fibers, as a reinforcement on the epoxy matrixes. When basalt fibers act in conjunction with the polymer (thermoplastic, thermoset, biodegradable, metallic, and concrete matrices), some promising properties have been reported. Since its discovery, basalt fiber as a reinforcement for composites has been mainly used for military operations, such as the fabrication of lightweight and robust material for antiballistic and aerospace applications. This study enables the evaluation of new materials in small wind turbines, comparing basalt and E-glass with the epoxy matrix, confirming that it is worth investigating new types of fibers (other than E-glass) to reduce manufacturing costs, which complements previous work. Since basalt fibers represent an area of opportunity, here we describe a comparative simulation by finite element analysis to determinate if basalt fiber can substitute E-glass composites in wind turbine blades, which represent a potential weight reduction and an easy handle material for manufacturing and reparations.

  • V. Garcı´a, Universidad Auto´noma de Baja California, Facultad de Ingenier´ıa Mexicali, Blvd. Benito Jua´rez S/N Unidad Universitaria, 21280 Mexicali, BCN, Mexico
  • L. Vargas, Universidad Auto´noma de Baja California, Facultad de Ingenier´ıa Mexicali, Blvd. Benito Jua´rez S/N Unidad Universitaria, 21280 Mexicali, BCN, Mexico
  • A. Acuña, Universidad Auto´noma de Baja California, Facultad de Ingenier´ıa Mexicali, Blvd. Benito Jua´rez S/N Unidad Universitaria, 21280 Mexicali, BCN, Mexico
  • J. B. Sosa, Universidad Auto´noma de Baja California, Facultad de Ingenier´ıa Mexicali, Blvd. Benito Jua´rez S/N Unidad Universitaria, 21280 Mexicali, BCN, Mexico
  • E. Durazo, Universidad Auto´noma de Baja California, Facultad de Ingenier´ıa Mexicali, Blvd. Benito Jua´rez S/N Unidad Universitaria, 21280 Mexicali, BCN, Mexico
  • R. Ballesteros, Universidad Auto´noma de Baja California, Facultad de Ingenier´ıa Mexicali, Blvd. Benito Jua´rez S/N Unidad Universitaria, 21280 Mexicali, BCN, Mexico
  • J. Ocampo, Universidad Auto´noma de Baja California, Facultad de Ingenier´ıa Mexicali, Blvd. Benito Jua´rez S/N Unidad Universitaria, 21280 Mexicali, BCN, Mexico

Countries: Mexico

Industries: Energy

Terms: Wind Turbine

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