GROUP 8 - AEOLUS BLADES WIND TURBINE BLADES FROM ENGINEERED WOOD

FRONTIER POWER SYSTEMS

DESIGN SELECTION MEMO
TO: FROM: SUBJECT: DATE: CC: DR. TED HUBBARD, P.ENG, DEPT. MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY GROUP 8: JAMES BECK, MARC DONALDSON, CHARLES MADER, ERIC MYATT, JEFF RENT, ADAM SANDLER DESIGN PROJECT: ENGINEERED WOOD WIND TURBINE BLADES, DESIGN SELECTION NOVEMBER 7, 2004 CARL BROTHERS, P.ENG FRONTIER POWER SYSTEMS; DR. DALE RETALLACK, P.ENG, DEPT. MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY

The Aeolus Blades project involves redesigning and manufacturing wind turbine blades from engineered wood in an attempt to reduce both the material and manufacturing costs involved in using traditional fiberglass or carbon fiber manufacturing methods. Wood possesses material properties superior to those of fiberglass and carbon fiber in terms of fatigue-stress endurance, but is inferior to both of those materials when considering stiffness and strength-to-weight ratio. New engineered wood products, with grains oriented parallel to their length, such as laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and oriented strand lumber (Timberstrand), have made it possible to reconsider wood as a wind turbine blade material. These products exhibit improved flexural strength and stiffness when compared to conventional wood. Traditional wood turbine blade manufacturing techniques are extremely labour-intensive and thus expensive. We plan to reduce the manufacturing cost by shaping the blades with a CNC router. We will design, build and test a prototype set of engineered wood blades for a Wenvor 25kW wind turbine at the Atlantic Wind Test Site. The goal is to design functional blades that can be manufactured more easily and at a lower cost than traditional fiberglass blades. Current blades are in the order of $2000; we plan to reduce this by half.

BACKGROUND
Wind energy is the fastest growing electricity source in the world. With annual growth rates of 30% and continuing cost reduction, wind energy is expected to become the lowest cost source of available electricity. These advances have been made possible by the economies of large utility-sized turbines.

AEOLUS BLADES WIND TURBINE BLADES FROM ENGINEERED WOOD FRONTIER POWER SYSTEMS Small wind turbine technology has seen far less advancement and there is still a lot of room for improvement in this area. These options. REJECTED DESIGNS Several design options were pursued during the preliminary stages of this project. -2- . are outlined below. as well as weight specifications from the client. These downfalls could cause the blade to contact the tower during operation and may lead to tower or generator failure because of the extra weight. It is also too heavy. The use of engineered wood for these blades may offer a significant opportunity for turbine cost reduction if the blades can meet design requirements. engineered wood simply cannot produce the same stiffness characteristics. including reasons for rejection. One of the main cost challenges associated with making small turbines feasible lies with the blades.Solid Blade A solid blade design is the simplest and cheapest solution to this project. Option 1 . based on research and experiment. but an apparent restriction is that blade size is limited by the size of available CNC machines. There is a strong interest in using these smaller turbines in domestic applications and in remote areas. This is a likely characteristic of the final design to open the option of producing a larger blade. Advantages Minimal production and manufacturing time (cheap) No additional material required No complex assembly/supports Disadvantages Limited by the size of CNC machine Not stiff enough Too heavy Solid Cross Section Though limited by the size of the manufacturing apparatus. As determined from experiments on existing blades. this blade would likely be CNC machined for ease of production. In addition. Some of these options were eventually abandoned for more viable solutions. The reason for which this option cannot be pursued is based on mechanical properties. the blade could be constructed in pieces.GROUP 8 . This design would require minimal production time and includes a very short list of material requirements.

The most obvious solution to this problem is the installation of a supporting member inside the blade. we have been able to approximate a shape for the entire blade. it will contribute better to the blade’s overall stiffness. To date we have completed deflection testing on existing fiberglass and carbon fiber blades that have the same profile as our proposed wood blade. the blade decreases in cross sectional area towards the tip. Using these data. Advantages Strong in bending Increased stiffness Disadvantages Stress concentrations Bonding problems Tapered support (costly) Weight Beam-Fortified Blade Though this addition initially seems beneficial. resulting in a supporting member that also requires a decreasing cross sectional area. A relatively thin fiberglass coating is generally applied to wind -3- . such as fiberglass. A coating. Under similar loading. there would be issues with finding an appropriate adhesive material to properly bond the supporting member to the wood while limiting stress-concentration factors. Since it will be placed further from the blade’s centroid than an aluminum beam would be. such as an aluminum I-Beam. the projected weight of a solid wood blade is 30% higher than the design requirement. a wood blade can be expected to deflect twice as much as a fiberglass blade.AEOLUS BLADES WIND TURBINE BLADES FROM ENGINEERED WOOD FRONTIER POWER SYSTEMS Option 2 – Beam-Fortified Blade With the solid blade excluded from consideration and stiffness properties being an issue. By comparing the modulus of elasticity of typical engineered wood to that of fiberglass and carbon fiber. reinforcement options must be considered. Furthermore. Also. We have also used a Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) to accurately measure three plaster casts obtained from sections of a carbon fiber blade. This item is not readily available and therefore would be prohibitively expensive. will add to the stiffness of the blade. Overall blade stiffness has been estimated using calculations based on the above information. Structural problems would result from the bore needed to insert the member.GROUP 8 . we have determined that wood alone can not achieve the same stiffness. SELECTED DESIGN – HOLLOWED/WEBBED WOOD BLADE WITH COATING The most important properties of a wood turbine blade design are stiffness and weight.

LSL has higher shear strength. other materials such as carbon fiber are still being investigated. porosity. However. To address the weight concern. Glulam beams and marine grade plywood have been rejected for mechanical and cost reasons.GROUP 8 . therefore. and cost. where 3 is the best option.AEOLUS BLADES WIND TURBINE BLADES FROM ENGINEERED WOOD FRONTIER POWER SYSTEMS turbine blades for weather protection in any case. LVL is a more homogenous. and marine grade plywood. so fiberglass appears to be ideal as a coating for increased stiffness. density. Hollowed Blade with Fiberglass Coating Webbed Blade with Fiberglass Coating The table below helped us with our initial design direction. It has become clear. each having some advantages and some disadvantages. that the weight and stiffness properties of the first two design options cannot meet the design requirements. The ratings are relative. less porous material that would give a better surface finish compared to LSL. more recently. tensile. These included laminated veneer lumber (LVL). Both LVL and LSL have been determined to be suitable materials for the application. However. LVL is also a little stiffer and has a lower density than LSL. modulus of elasticity. density and size can -4- . Solid I Beam Coating. Hole Weight Stiffness Cost Ease of Manufacture Total 2 1 3 3 9 1 2 1 1 5 3 3 2 2 10 Rating Matrix MATERIAL SELECTION Several engineered-wood products were considered for fabricating the blades. material will be removed near the centroid of the blade. is less susceptible to stress concentrations induced by machining and is cheaper than LVL. machinability. and shear strengths. laminated strand lumber (LSL). glulam beams. The material properties taken into consideration for selecting the most suitable material included: flexural. LSL is also available in custom run batches where stiffness. we intend to focus on the hollowed wood beam incorporating a coating for stiffness.

The decision between these two materials will be made based on stiffness. the spreadsheet is capable of recalculating stresses after material addition and removal. Since our final design will incorporate a fiberglass coating with a hollowed center. Bending Stress 60 50 Stress (Mpa) 40 Max Bending Stress (Mpa) 30 20 Max Allowable Bending Stress of LVL (Mpa) 10 0 0 0.GROUP 8 . Our selected design currently has a safety factor of 2. The accompanying figure is an ANSYS model produced from our aforementioned approximated blade shape. we have also developed a spreadsheet to determine stresses due to the design wind load of 5000N/m2. we will confirm our approximations by ANSYS Model of using finite element analysis Approximated Blade Shape (ANSYS).5 2 2. The following chart compares the bending stresses in the blade to the maximum allowable stress for LVL.5 3 3.5 5 Distance from Root (m) -5- .5 1 1.3. In addition to the finite element analysis. Once we have produced a computer model from the profile data points. The software allows for application of the design load and calculates resulting elemental stresses (shown) and overall deflection.5 4 4.AEOLUS BLADES WIND TURBINE BLADES FROM ENGINEERED WOOD FRONTIER POWER SYSTEMS be fine-tuned to the application. DESIGN FINALIZATION The finalization of our design is pending analysis of profile data only recently acquired by use of a portable CMM. strength and weight calculations that are still being finalized.