An Innovative Technique for Evaluating the Integrity and Durability of Wind Turbine Blade Composites

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Wind turbine blades are subjected to complex multiaxial stress states during operation. A review of the literature suggests that mixed mode fracture toughness can be significantly less than that of the tensile opening mode (Mode I), implying that fracture failure can occur at a much lower load capacity if the structure is subject to mixed-mode loading. Thus, it will be necessary to identify the mechanisms that might lead to failure in blade materials under mixed-mode loading conditions. Meanwhile, wind turbine blades are typically fabricated from fiber reinforced polymeric materials, e.g. fiber glass composites. Due to the large degree of anisotropy ... continued below

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Wang, Jy-An John & Ren, Fei September 1, 2010.

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Wind turbine blades are subjected to complex multiaxial stress states during operation. A review of the literature suggests that mixed mode fracture toughness can be significantly less than that of the tensile opening mode (Mode I), implying that fracture failure can occur at a much lower load capacity if the structure is subject to mixed-mode loading. Thus, it will be necessary to identify the mechanisms that might lead to failure in blade materials under mixed-mode loading conditions. Meanwhile, wind turbine blades are typically fabricated from fiber reinforced polymeric materials, e.g. fiber glass composites. Due to the large degree of anisotropy in mechanical properties that is usually associated with laminates, the fracture behavior of these composite materials is likely to be strongly dependent on the loading conditions. This may further strengthen the need to study the effect of mixed-mode loading on the integrity and durability of the wind turbine blade composites. To quantify the fracture behavior of composite structures under mixed mode loading conditions, particularly under combined Mode I (flexural or normal tensile stress) and Mode III (torsional shear stress) loading, a new testing technique is proposed based on the spiral notch torsion test (SNTT). As a 2002 R&D 100 Award winner, SNTT is a novel fracture testing technology. SNTT has many advantages over conventional fracture toughness methods and has been used to determine fracture toughness values on a wide spectrum of materials. The current project is the first attempt to utilize SNTT on polymeric and polymer-based composite materials. It is expected that mixed-mode failure mechanisms of wind turbine blades induced by typical in-service loading conditions, such as delamination, matrix cracking, fiber pull-out and fracture, can be effectively and economically investigated by using this methodology. This project consists of two phases. The Phase I (FY2010) effort includes (1) preparation of testing material and testing equipment set-up, including calibration of associated instruments/sensors, (2) development of design protocols for the proposed SNTT samples for both polymer and composite materials, such as sample geometries and fabrication techniques, (3) manufacture of SNTT samples, and (4) fracture toughness testing using the SNTT method. The major milestone achieved in Phase I is the understanding of fracture behaviors of polymeric matrix materials from testing numerous epoxy SNTT samples. Totals of 30 epoxy SNTT samples were fabricated from two types of epoxy materials provided by our industrial partners Gougeon Brothers, Inc. and Molded Fiber Glass Companies. These samples were tested with SNTT in three groups: (1) fracture due to monotonic loading, (2) fracture due to fatigue cyclic loading, and (3) monotonic loading applied to fatigue-precracked samples. Brittle fractures were observed on all tested samples, implying linear elastic fracture mechanics analysis can be effectively used to estimate the fracture toughness of these materials with confidence. Appropriate fatigue precracking protocols were established to achieve controllable crack growth using the SNTT approach under pure torsion loading. These fatigue protocols provide the significant insights of the mechanical behavior of epoxy polymeric materials and their associated rate-dependent characteristics. Effects of mixed-mode loading on the fracture behavior of epoxy materials was studied. It was found that all epoxy samples failed in brittle tensile failure mode; the fracture surfaces always follow a 45o spiral plane that corresponded to Mode I tensile failure, even when the initial pitch angle of the machined spiral grooves was not at 45o. In addition, general observation from the fatigue experiments implied that loading rate played an important role determining the fracture behavior of epoxy materials, such that a higher loading rate resulted in a shorter fatigue life. A detailed study of loading rate effect will be continued in the Phase II. On the other hand, analytical finite element analysis for fracture toughness evaluation is also an integral part of our research program. In the report period this analysis was also initiated. Preliminary progress has been achieved in building geometric models and designs with appropriate meshing protocols for epoxy polymeric samples. Based on the experience learned from the Phase I study, in FY2011 we will carry Phase II efforts to continue the finite element analysis to simulate the fracture process of both epoxy and composite materials. Experimental investigation will be focused on blade composite materials. The proposed SNTT composite samples are currently being jointly developed by ORNL team and Prof. John Mandell s group at Montana State University.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2010/191
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/988730 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 988730
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1012342

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  • September 1, 2010

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  • Oct. 14, 2017, 8:36 a.m.

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Wang, Jy-An John & Ren, Fei. An Innovative Technique for Evaluating the Integrity and Durability of Wind Turbine Blade Composites, report, September 1, 2010; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1012342/: accessed October 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.