Innovation will be key to accelerating the clean energy transition and reaching a net zero economy. Edison Energy is following the latest innovations in decarbonization across technologies, projects, and programs, from conception through completion.
3D printed concrete bases for wind turbines
The big picture
An innovative 3D printer will enable 3D printing of the bottom portion of extra tall wind turbine towers. The technology is expected to increase renewable energy production while lowering the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) and optimizing construction costs.
How it works
A new 3D concrete printer system from COBOD is the first in the world with two X-axes, converting the printer to a multifunctional construction robot that automatically executes concrete printing and reinforcement at the same time. As a result of the development of a new giant printhead, the system can print more than 10 tons of real concrete per hour.
The printhead and nozzle of the world’s largest 3D printer. Image source: GE Renewable Energy
The 3D printer is the size of a three-story building and can print wind tower sections of up to 20 meters high.
Last week, GE Renewable Energy officially opened a research and development facility in Bergen, New York, to conduct first-of-its-kind research in the U.S. on how to 3D print the concrete base of wind turbine towers on-site at wind farms. This will lower transportation costs and create additional employment opportunities at the wind farms where the technology will be used.
The research being conducted at the Bergen facility is supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
New state-of-the-art 3D concrete printer system from COBOD. Image source: GE Renewable Energy
Why it matters
The ability to build taller wind turbines assembled onsite will cut costs, overcome logistical hurdles, and accelerate progress toward renewable energy targets.
The technology is expected to pave the way for more sustainable and efficient ways to produce towers for wind turbines.
Researchers will continue to optimize the 3D printing technology, with first applications in the field anticipated within the next five years.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Energy Edge Innovation Series!
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