Robotics & Autonomous Systems

Find out more about our robotics and autonomous systems testing and validation facilities.

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Electrical Infrastructure Research Hub

The Catapult has appointed the University of Strathclyde and the University of Manchester to form the Electrical Infrastructure Research Hub.

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Automation & Engineering Solutions

Find out more about our work in robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence.

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Stay Current

Dig deeper into the biggest issues facing offshore wind, wave and tidal energy with our series of Analysis & Insight papers.

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Live Innovation Opportunities

There are a number of programmes identifying the key technology innovation challenges faced by the offshore renewables industry. Solving these challenges will help drive down the cost of offshore renewable energy, with positive effects for the industry and UK economy. Visit our Live Innovation Opportunities page to find out if your technology has the answer.

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Thermoplastic Fibre Metal Laminates for Blade Applications

Renewable energy technologies are key for a low-carbon future and mitigating climate change. However, a challenge facing the wind industry in particular is the ability to make these structures as green as possible, in addition to their recycling at the end of their product lifetimes. Over the next decade, our ability to environmentally recycle or dispose of hundreds of thousands of tons of old wind and/or tidal turbine blades will be tested. Therefore, there is a vital need to develop advanced hybrid ‘green’ low-cost structures characterised by superior mechanical performance, extensive service life and recyclability is vital.

 

Fibre metal laminates (FMLs) are hybrid materials consisting of alternating layers of monolithic metallic sheet and plies of fibre reinforced polymeric materials. Taking advantage of the hybrid nature, these composites offer several benefits such as their high resistance levels to impact, durability, low-weight, and versatile manufacturing, as well as good resistance to fatigue, which is a distinctive characteristic of polymer composites.

In this project, the performance of a new generation of fibre-metal composites based on a thermoplastic matrix developed specifically for the offshore renewable industry is being investigated. The study aims to validate the novel concept of thermoplastic composite FMLs through in-situ polymerisation. Thermoplastic FMLs offer even greater advantage over conventional FMLs such as their high recycling potential and extensive service performance. The rapid acceleration of thermoplastic FML will go a long way of ensuring a green, sustainable manufacturing future for large wind turbine blade structures. FMLs also offer some distinct processing and cost advantages due to the lower raw material cost and greater automation.

ORE Catapult will provide significant complementary skills and experience to meet the scientific and technical objectives of the proposed project. Our support will facilitate further investigation of the thermoplastic-FMLs and will help accelerate the journey to market for such multi-functional structures. Finally, we will use our extensive network of renewable SMEs and OEMs, to help direct the specification and development of the thermoplastic-FML concept in the renewable sector.

Schematic drawing of the proposed thermoplastic FML solution.

 


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