Sandia Labs software will lead to innovative wind turbine designs

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Strong points :

  • In the revolutionary concept, the developers could now place the generator of a wind turbine on a floating platform. This eliminates the need to place it on top of the wind tower, which is typically 500 feet tall.

Brandon Ennis, technical manager for offshore wind at Sandia National Laboratories, said he designed a new concept that seems to be changing in turbine installations at offshore wind farms. Sandia Labs is a multinational laboratory based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sandia Labs had filed the patent for Ennis’ design in 2020. In the groundbreaking concept, developers could now place a wind turbine’s generator on a floating platform. This eliminates the need to place it on top of the wind tower which is typically 500 feet tall.

The project is supported by the US Department of Energy (DoE). Sandia Labs said this design also required a software tool capable of running the Ennis design. This would help engineers certify wind turbines to the right design standards that would be suitable for changing wind and sea conditions.

Ennis said, “To design our floating wind turbine system, we needed a design tool that could simulate wind, waves, blade elasticity, rig motion, and controllers.” He said his design for offshore wind replaces the traditional vertical tower with taut cables that can be adjusted to conditions. He added, “To design our floating wind turbine system, we needed a design tool that could simulate wind, waves, blade elasticity, rig motion and controllers.

According to Sandia Labs, the new software will now make it possible to develop lighter and cheaper offshore wind turbines. The lab says the offshore wind in the United States blows over water more than 200 feet deep. It is therefore not recommended to build rigid structures found in traditional wind turbines. Now Sandia Labs new design which has a vertical axis captures wind and energy from all directions. But the structure is still not fully protected from destructive sea winds. In this scenario, Sandia solved this challenge by replacing a vertical tower with taut cables that can be adjusted to sea conditions.

Ennis said, “For us, the question is how to remove mass and cost from the system while maximizing energy capture, hence our innovative, towerless, vertical axis design.” Sandia Labs is considering a fully optimized design for the floating wind turbine by the end of 2022.

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