Additive Manufacturing for Powering the Blue Economy Applications: A Tidal Turbine Blade Case Study

Miguel Gonzalez-Montijo, Paul Murdy, Charles Candon, Ryan Beach, Casey Nichols, Phillip Barden

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


As the marine renewable energy industry continues to expand, innovation in the manufacturing space must grow accordingly to reduce costs and ensure the economic feasibility of new technologies. Additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, provides an alternative for rapid prototyping of marine hydrokinetic technologies, particularly supporting Powering the Blue EconomyTM initiatives of the U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office. This study explores the application of additive manufacturing in the development of marine hydrokinetic structures, focusing on material and printing method selection, design, and analysis of a 3D-printed spar for an axial-flow tidal turbine blade. Corrosion-resistant metals were deemed ideal due to the loads and harsh marine environment the blade would experience. Laser metal deposition methods were determined to be the most effective and scalable for the considered scale. The designed spar adapts its geometry to the blade - a feature uniquely suited to additive manufacturing - and is intended to serve as the blade's primary structural component. A finite element model was used to study stresses and deformations under loading conditions. The spar was manufactured using 316L stainless steel through direct energy deposition, and defects were assessed and recorded. Future efforts will include mechanical testing of the spar. This research establishes a benchmark process for using additive manufacturing in developing marine hydrokinetic structures, paving the way for future optimization and techno-economic analysis.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2023
EventEuropean Wave and Tidal Energy Conference - Bilbao, Spain
Duration: 3 Sep 20237 Sep 2023


ConferenceEuropean Wave and Tidal Energy Conference
CityBilbao, Spain

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5700-86314 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-87594


  • additive manufacturing
  • laser metal deposition
  • structural design
  • tidal energy


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