Ground-Breaking Materials for Rotor Blades

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) provides 3.3 million euros of funding for HANNAH, a collaborative project on wind energy

Press release of the Leibniz Universität Hannover

A research project of Leibniz University Hannover and several partners is developing and testing new materials for wind turbine rotor blades. Conventional materials made of glass fibre reinforced plastic reach their performance limits when it comes to extending the service life and improving the lightweight properties of rotor blades. The collaborative project HANNAH is coordinated by the Institute of Structural Analysis (ISD) at Leibniz University Hannover and investigates the potential of nano-modified materials and hybrid laminates for industrial application in rotor blade construction. With regard to service life and fatigue resistance, these material systems are superior to established materials. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has provided 3.3 million euros of funding for the collaborative project, which launched in March 2019. HANNAH is an acronym for "Challenges of the industrial application of nano-modified and hybrid material systems in rotor blade lightweight construction". The project is incorporated in the Research Alliance Wind Energy. Since the ISD is a member of ForWind, HANNAH is part of the joint research conducted within the scope of ForWind, the centre for wind energy research of LUH, Oldenburg University, and University of Bremen.

The precursor, LENAH ("Lifetime increase and lightweight design of rotor blades through nano-modified and hybrid materials"), focused on the basic development and testing of new materials in order to facilitate the production of larger rotor blades, as well as to utilise material more efficiently. Over the next three years, the follow-up project HANNAH will set the course for concrete medium-term applications of the material systems in industrial rotor blade construction. Project partners include the DLR Institute of Composite Structures and Adaptive Systems and the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems. Within the consortium, the industry is represented by INVENT GmbH, TECOSIM Technische Simulation GmbH, SINOI GmbH and Zeisberg Carbon GmbH.

The emphasis of the project is on hybrid materials and nano-modified material systems. Hybrid materials are composites made of or assembled from individual components such as glass fibres, carbon fibres or metal foil. The aim of hybrid lightweight construction is to reduce the mass of load-bearing structures or components as well as to increase the performance. By adding nano-scale particles, the material properties are specifically modified in order to improve the material behaviour and allow for higher loads. In particular, HANNAH addresses the challenges of processing these new materials in large-scale industrial machinery.

In the collaborative project, the Institute of Structural Analysis (ISD) deals with computer-assisted modelling; among other things via material and damage models specifically designed and applied to nano-modified and hybrid material systems. With these methods, researchers intend to gain deeper insights into underlying modes of action and damage mechanisms within the analysed material systems. Furthermore, the researchers address the impact of industrial production conditions and realistic environmental influences on structural components in order to enable efficient lightweight construction of rotor blades with these promising materials. The extensive experimental analyses of the project partners are to be used for the development and validation of the simulation models. In the long run, researchers will assess both the developed methods and the outcomes of the analysed material systems and conduct a cost-benefit analysis.

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