Post-Deployment Characterization of Glass Fiber-Reinforced Thermoset and Thermoplastic Composite Tidal Turbine Blades: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In 2021, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) supported Verdant Power with the most successful tidal energy deployment in U.S. history. Three of their tidal turbines were deployed as part of the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project. Initially, the three rotors were manufactured from glass fiber-reinforced epoxy composites. Midway through the deployment, one rotor was replaced with one manufactured at NREL. Instead, it was infused with a novel, infusible thermoplastic resin system. Since the deployment, one epoxy rotor and one thermoplastic rotor were returned to NREL for continued materials and manufacturing research. The two rotors underwent full-scale structural testing before being sectioned and cut into specimens for a variety of manufacturing quality tests, thermos-mechanical characterization, and evaluation of material performance in marine environments, to understand the key differences between the fiberglass reinforced epoxy and Elium composites used for the respective rotors. Matrix burnoff tests showed that the Elium blades had a considerably higher fiber volume fraction compared to the epoxy blades (61% vs. 49%). Environmental aging of the specimens showed that the epoxy laminates absorbed more water over the conditioning period, however, it was determined that the Elium laminates had higher diffusion coefficients, so initially absorbed water faster. Finally, one full epoxy blade and one full Elium blade were conditioned at ambient temperatures for up to 11 months, while taking periodic mass measurements. The datasets were extrapolated out to assume a full 20 year operational life span and it was determined that the blades would not reach full saturation during that time span.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2024
EventSAMPE 2024 - Long Beach, CA
Duration: 20 May 202423 May 2024


ConferenceSAMPE 2024
CityLong Beach, CA

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-88548


  • composite manufacturing
  • environmental degradation
  • marine renewable energy
  • mechanical characterization
  • tidal turbine


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