In this work, a comparative analysis of the E-glass fibers used in the manufacture of wind turbine blades was made to contrast their mechanical properties with basalt fibers.
To determine the optimum profile and achieve adequate production for a low capacity wind turbine, an aerodynamic evaluation was carried out. To define the mechanical properties, different manufacturing methods were evaluated to achieve the best surface finish and the best union between the reinforcement and the matrix.
Once the blade design was established, to know the normal and critical conditions on the wind turbine blade, a comparison of the pressure contours was made through an aerodynamic simulation. Then, though structural analysis using the finite element method, we tested if the proposed material could viably replace the conventional material.
Due the manufacturing process used, it was possible to identify basalt fibers are high-strength, high-modulus fibers, with excellent shock resistance, high-temperature resistance, and excellent corrosion properties.
Basalt fibers are easy to handle and do not need specialized processing equipment, can be recycled, and are compatible with many resins as epoxy. With this work, it was possible to identify parameters of fiber content, fabric architecture, and percent material that have a wide impact when systematically varied.
The aerodynamic CFD analysis allows optimal wind blade selection and to obtain the wind load pressure distribution needed to predict the structural behavior of a small wind turbine under real conditions in Baja California, México.
Based on the obtained FEM results, basalt-epoxy blades satisfy the design and structural integrity requirements for a wind turbine of 35 kW of energy production, with a blade radius of 5 m long, under normal and critical case loading conditions, validating that basalt fibers are a viable alternative to substitute E-glass fibers.
The lower density of basalt fibers enables component weight savings. It was found that the basalt-epoxy blade is 2% lighter than the E-glass-epoxy blade.
The basalt/epoxy composite has a 23% higher Young’s modulus than E-glass/epoxy, and for the shear modulus, the results show that basalt/epoxy is 20% higher than E-glass/epoxy.
For the maximum wind conditions assessed on this study, the power output for the NACA 4412 can reach 35 kW, with a minimum power output for the proposed HAWT for each blade of 2 kW, with a wind velocity of 8 m/s for each wind blade.
The total deformation of the wind turbine blade was reduced by 68%; this can guide future studies evaluating basalt fibers in larger wind turbine blades and significantly reduce manufacturing costs—basalt fiber is cheaper than carbon fiber.
V. García, L. Vargas, A. Acuña, J. B. Sosa, E. Durazo, R. Ballesteros, and J. Ocampo. Academic Editor: Carlo Santulli.
Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Facultad de Ingeniería Mexicali, Blvd. Benito Juárez S/N Unidad Universitaria, Mexico.