| Follow Us:

Innovation & Job News

Wind power collaboration looks at composite towers

Adding next-generation wind production to Ohio's energy mix presents several technical problems, but one boils down to this: Getting to the best wind will take taller towers, and using steel structures to get there will add significant weight and transportation costs.

But what if we could make the towers on site using lighter-weight composites? A new $1-million Ohio Third Frontier grant is aimed at finding out.

Managing the project is Ershigs, a Bellingham, Wash.-based company with expertise in building composite structures on site and which has operations near Manchester, Ohio. Other partners include the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) and Edison Materials Technology Center in Dayton; Miamisburg-based WebCore, which makes engineered core materials for composite sandwich structures; Owens Corning's Columbus operations, which make an advanced, high-strength glass fiber; and Ashland Performance Materials in Dublin, which makes high-performance resins. A successful project could lead to new Ohio jobs, partners say.

UD, WebCore and Owens-Corning worked on an earlier Third Frontier project that looked at new markets for advanced materials in a variety of areas -- including windmill blades, says Brian Rice, Division Head for Multi-Scale Composites and Polymers at UDRI.

"And we also funded an engineering study to say does it make sense to make towers with composites . . . and we wanted to find out at what point does it make economic sense to switch from steel to composites."

Steve Hettick, a vice president of manufacturing for Ershigs, says the first year of the two-year grant period will be concerned primarily with "technical development and with materials testing validation." He said the team will perform extensive computer modeling and build sample laminates to first prove out the design. Eventually, the team's objective is to build and test a full-scale tower.

Sources: Brian Rice, UDRI and Steve Hettick, Ershigs
Writer: Gene Monteith

Share this page