Two $100,000 grants awarded by the Department of Energy (DOE) will be used to investigate the use of carbon fibers for two major wind turbine components: towers and blades.

Wind turbine towers are typically made of steel, but PYRAmatrix Structures Inc. plans to develop taller, lighter-weight towers made of carbon fibers, fiberglass, or a combination of the two. By using a lattice structure in the composite materials, the company says it can reduce tower costs for a 1.5-MW wind turbine by 37% while cutting the weight by 96%.

The other grant went to Global Energy Concepts, LLC, which will use the funds to develop technology for the production of wind turbine blades from carbon fibers. Wind blades are usually produced from fiber glass, but carbon fiber technology could allow new blade designs that could reduce wind energy costs at low wind speeds.

— Greg Mazurkiewicz

Publication date: 09/02/2002