News Column

Wind Turbine Research Gets More Funding

Dec. 6, 2011

Dave DeWitte

Wind farm
Wind farm

Research aimed at optimizing iron castings for the wind turbine industry at the University of Iowa will receive a $300,000 boost from a public-private partnership.

The Iowa Alliance for Wind Innovation and Novel Development (IAWIND) awarded a $300,000 research grant to Christoph Beckerman, director of the Solidification Laboratory at the University of Iowa.

Two wind industry suppliers, Clipper Windpower and North American Ductile Iron Company (NADICOM), will match the alliance's $300,000 grant. Clipper operates a wind turbine manufacturing facility in Cedar Rapids, and NADICOM is developing a foundry in Iowa City to supply castings for the wind turbine industry.

In a statement, IAWIND said the goal of the UI research is to develop a method for casting of wind turbine components that result in reduced weight, greater reliability and longer life.

A single utility-scale wind turbine requires 15 to 20 tons of iron castings per megawatt of rated output, IAWIND said. Production of steel and cast iron components for wind turbines has become an industry with $3 billion of annual sales in the United States, the group said.

"The wind industry is highly pressured to meet demand, with a current bottleneck concentrated on the ability to produce castings that meet required quality levels," said Beckerman, UI Foundation Distinguished Profess of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

Beckermann said the project will use a decade of UI research on integrated design of castings sponsored by the United States Department of Defense. He said the research has additional interest from Deere & Co., Caterpillar and Oshkosh Corp.

IAWIND is a partnership including Iowa's three major state universities, community colleges, industry and the Iowa Department of Economic Development aimed at supporting Iowa's efforts to attract wind energy businesses. The partnership received a $3 million, three-year grant in 2009 from the Iowa Power Fund to implement research, training and education efforts.

Source: (c) 2011 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

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