Tidal blade facility launched

The world’s first rapid testing facility for tidal turbine blades, which researchers say can speed up development of marine energy technologies while helping to reduce costs, has opened.

FastBlade’s pioneering technology will stress test blades made from composite materials – which must withstand harsh ocean conditions for 20 years – more quickly and using significantly less energy than any other facility of its kind, the team says.

FastBlade will be the world’s first dedicated fatigue test facility for tidal turbine blades and help maintain the globally leading position of the UK tidal turbine developers.

Based in Rosyth, Fife, the £4.6m facility was officially opened by Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord. The facility’s 75 tonne reaction frame is capable of exerting powerful forces on turbine blades more than 50 feet long. Tests on blades are carried out using a system of powerful hydraulic cylinders, which, in less than three months, can simulate the stresses placed on the structures during two decades at sea. It replicates the complex forces to which tidal turbines are exposed at sea using unique digital and hydraulic technology systems developed by engineers at the University of Edinburgh.

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