Elemental Energy: Build, Assembly & Dynamic Testing

Mako Tidal Turbines

At 3.2m diameter the ‘Mako’ is the largest tidal turbine designed by the company. Our role was to carry out laminate design and build all composite parts, associated tooling and required metal components. Part Sub assembly and final assembly also was carried out by Composite Components which then led to structural testing of each of the 3 blade sizes and culminating in the full-scale, full assembly 5-ton load test.
 
The blade design was unique as it encompassed twist, sweep and anhedral elements as well as varying foil profiles along the length, this created a challenging format to build from a master pattern/tooling aspect. Early analysis confirmed alternate blade materials eg: stainless steel or alloys would yield or exceed budget expectations, leaving composites as the preferred material. The approach to resolve the complex composite design involved 3D printing the blade in multiple parts
fused together to become one part from which a 2-part compression mould was made. The compression mould underwent heat of 120°C and pressure at 90psi to create a 100% solid carbon fibre blade.
 
To facilitate the twisting element and reduce or eliminate cavitation when at speed, each ply had mixed orientations. Using our cutter plotter, each ply (or layer) was cut and labelled with reference marks and when used in collaboration with a laser reference line the placement of each ply could be assured.

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