Last year, the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, a prestigious, federally backed program, initiated by the White House’s National Science and Technology Council, selected the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation to conduct manufacturing innovation research and development related to fiber reinforced polymer matrix composites. The IACMI, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation is directing this effort and will work with a variety of organizations and universities across the country to carry out this research. Among those involved is CSU’s Dr. Don Radford, who is conducting wind turbine blade research.
NNMI has a multilayered mission; however, overall, the purpose is to enhance the U.S.’s competitiveness in the field of advanced manufacturing technology processes along with promoting job growth and economic development.
The IACMI team includes states, companies, universities, and national labs. There are five application areas that fall within the scope of IACMI, and shared research, development, and demonstration facilities will support each industry:
- Composites manufacturing for the wind turbine blade segment; Colorado: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado Boulder
- Composites manufacturing for the automotive segment; Michigan: Michigan State University
- Composites manufacturing for the mobile pressure vessel segment; Ohio: University of Dayton Research Institute
- Design, modeling, and simulation; Indiana: Purdue University
- Composite materials and process; Tennessee: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, The University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky
The goal of each area is to boost the development of manufacturing of affordable, advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites. IACMI members will work to develop low-cost, high-rate production, energy-efficient manufacturing, and recycling processes for composites applications. The group of states involved in this project matched the $70 million that was federally funded. The state of Colorado’s contribution was $7 million. In addition, industry and academia have provided about $70 million of in-kind cost share.
Colorado was strategically chosen to carry out wind turbine research because it has more blade facilities than any other state: 22 wind industry manufacturing plants, 29 operating wind farms, and three wind research and workforce development institutions (Reilly). In 2014, wind energy provided 13.6 percent of all of Colorado’s in-state electricity production. The wind industry in Colorado has created between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs as of 2014, which is nearly 10 percent of the nation’s wind industry workforce (Reilly). NREL is the lead in Colorado and supporting partner institutions include CSU, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado University Boulder, and Iowa State University.
More specifically, the goals of Dr. Radford’s wind turbine research include:
- Improving the manufacturing quality of structural composite components
- Decreasing embodied energy of manufacturing process for blades, towers, nacelles, and nose cones
- Reducing the production cycle time of turbine composite components
- Enhancing the lifetime reliability of composite parts
Dr. Radford’s team has not been announced yet, however, it will include faculty, research scientists, and graduate students from departments across campus. For more information on IACMI, visit: http://www.iacmi.org.
Reilly, Susan. “E2@15: WINDS OF CHANGE.” Winds of Change 15th Anniversary Event. Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). The Alliance Center, Denver. 2 July 2015. Lecture.