In 2014, world-leading yachting design specialists SMAR Azure responded to an ORE Catapult offshore wind innovation challenge. They proposed adapting their sail modelling technology to engineer a next-generation, ultralight and sustainable textile offshore wind turbine blade. ACT Blade was born.
ACT Blades are made from recycled carbon fibre, which means:
ACT’s blades don’t require finishing and painting, which is a time consuming and polluting process, making them more sustainable and easier to recycle.
ACT Blade’s commercialisation journey started at ORE Catapult, where research engineers and innovation specialists worked alongside ACT Blade to source project funding and further develop their innovative technology design.
Now, as part of an Innovate UK-funded project, ORE Catapult is working alongside the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre (LMC) and Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, to support ACT Blade to develop and bring the blade to market.
The University of Sheffield’s AMRC used their experience in composite materials to support the development of a prototype blade. The prototype was completed in February 2020 and successfully underwent testing and validation with the AMRC’s support at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland.
At the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre applied their expertise in ‘lightweighting’ – the process of making products or parts lighter to reduce costs, energy expenditure and carbon emissions. They manufactured three ACT27 blades, ready for testing in a real-world environment.
In July 2021, the project reached a major milestone as the three blades were installed on a real-world turbine at the Energy Technology Centre’s wind farm test site at Myres Hill in Scotland. And they started to generate electricity…
Real-world testing facilities are vital for technology developers like ACT Blade to enable them to test their innovative designs and gain investor and industry confidence in the technology. This real-world test is the culmination of six years’ work. The blades will undergo testing, gathering data on performance, to help inform the next evolution of the ACT Blade.