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

Research output: NRELPresentation


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 Gen5d 5 m turbines were deployed as part of the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project. Initially, the three deployed rotors were manufactured from glass fiber-reinforced epoxy composites. Midway through the deployment, one rotor was replaced with one manufactured at NREL. The new rotor utilized a novel infusible thermoplastic resin system (Elium from Arkema). 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, thermomechanical 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 burn-off 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 they 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 periodic mass measurements were taken. The datasets were extrapolated 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 pages25
StatePublished - 2024

Publication series

NamePresented at SAMPE 2024 Conference, 20-23 May 2024, Long Beach, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5700-89623


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


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