Manufacturing of Fiber-Reinforced, Fiberglass Resin Infused Composites for Wind Energy Applications

McMaster, Timothy
Walrath, David
Fiber-reinforced composites are an interesting class of materials that are seeing more use in mechanical engineering applications due to their many attractive characteristics. Their high stiffness and low density make them a practical replacement for many steels and aluminums in design criteria since these materials, although very stiff, have a much higher density. This quality makes composites very attractive for wind energy applications in which lower density (mass) corresponds too much higher energy conversion efficiencies, hence why most commercial wind turbine blades in use today are comprised of fiberglass. Fiberglass is one of the cheapest composite fabrics available and has moderate strength. It is weaker than other composite fabrics such as carbon and Kevlar, but its lower cost can offset this discrepancy. The primary goals of this research involved using the composites manufacturing technique known as SCRIMP or Seemann Composites Resin Infusion Molding Process to manufacture simple fiber-reinforced, fiberglass shapes and then constant cross-section fiberglass airfoils. The airfoil sections were made using a complete or full internal mold to determine if this approach produced comparable parts to those made in industry.
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