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Advanced Materials Enable Renewable Wind Energy Capture and Generation

  • Colin Tong
Chapter

Abstract

Advanced materials play a crucial role in wind power to enable renewable wind energy capture and generation. Composite materials such as polymer-matrix reinforced with fiberglass or graphite fibers have been used to make rotor blades of wind turbines. In the turbines, compact electrical generators contain powerful magnets made from rare earth materials. The electrical generator is driven by the rotation of the turbine blades through a gearbox, which uses special alloys in order to accommodate a wide range of wind speeds. As turbine sizes continue to increase, and the growth of offshore installations, the durability of turbine materials faces more and more challenges due mainly to long-time exposure to higher stresses and hostile environments. In addition, the turbine blades must maintain adequate stiffness to prevent failure due to deflection and buckling. They also need adequate long-term fatigue life in harsh conditions, including variable winds, ice loading, and lightning strikes. Therefore, development of next-generation wind turbine components and materials requires research on advanced materials and key components to improve performance and reliability; development of new architectures for larger, lightweight turbines that reduce overall mass (reducing costs) and provide access to better wind resources (larger rotors, taller towers), and improved systems performance (capacity factor); improvements in turbine cost, strength, weight, and fatigue to reduce operations and maintenance costs and reduce the failure rate for large components, such as blades, gearboxes, generators, power electronics, and collection systems; and innovations to solve transport and installation cost limitations for large-scale turbine systems and components. This chapter will address these critical issues and provide a brief review about the progress of advanced materials enabling renewable wind energy capture and generation.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin Tong
    • 1
  1. 1.ChicagoUSA

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