Outcome of Carnegie/Caledonian PhD Scholarships round 2020
Project Title: Wind Turbine Smart Blades Made of Functional Materials
Thanks to Scotland’s unique geographic location, wind energy provides the biggest opportunity for sustainable economic growth. Recent developments aim at increasing the size of the blades to take advantage of the presence of higher wind speed at greater heights. Nonetheless, this introduces challenges in manufacturing and increases aerodynamic and structural loads. Moreover, state-of-the-art wind turbine blades form a single structure with aero-surface and load-carrying functions. These roles are contradictory since thinner blades are aerodynamically more efficient, but they have limited load-bearing capacity. In recognition of these issues, this project adapts an innovative approach to the design of wind turbine blades with the help of an artificial neural network. This includes two functionalities of a conventional blade being delivered by separate systems: a poroelastic, morphing (shape-adaptive) surface, which is responsible for the aerodynamic function, and a lightweight internal structure, which ensures meeting the structural demand. In particular, poroelastic materials, such as metal foams, are currently unexploited for wind turbine application, although, with the advancement of additive manufacturing, they carry a significant potential due to their controllable stiffness and ability to realise morphology. Nevertheless, the deliverables are not limited to wind energy, including possible applications in the aerospace and the automotive industry.
Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship
University: University of Aberdeen