Milestone in Canadian-German EvoFoil collaboration

6 April 2022

A new 4.3m tidal turbine foil (blade) developed as part of the EvoFoil Project has completed extreme load testing to demonstrate its future durability within some of the most challenging tidal environments on earth, marking a major milestone for the Canadian-German collaboration project.

Sustainable Marine is leading the EvoFoil Project in partnership with German organizations M&D Composites Technology and Leibniz Universität Hannover Institute of Production Engineering and Machine Tools. It aims to deliver a series of design innovations to optimize the performance of tidal turbine foils while driving down production and operation costs.

The new foil has been specifically designed to withstand conditions in the Bay of Fundy’s Minas Passage, located in Nova Scotia, Canada. The site will play host to the firm’s Pempa’q Project to showcase the world’s first floating tidal energy array.

In latest developments, the new 4.3m foil underwent a comprehensive ‘static-bending test campaign’, with results showing continued evolution with a 7pc energy yield increase, compared to previous 4m rotors designs.

“Successful extreme load testing marks an important milestone demonstrating the reliability of our new foil design, which is a key factor in tidal turbine development,” said Ralf Starzmann, Head of Power Systems at Sustainable Marine. “Working closely with our partners, we developed a tailor-made test rig to meet the requirements of our new 4.3m foil and prove it can manage loads up to 3.8t (equivalent to four old VW Beetles). This verifies the short-term strength of the new foil design against the extreme loads it will experience at the FORCE (Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy) test site in the Minas Passage, where our tidal platform will soon be located.”

Testing took place at M&D Composites’ facilities in Friedeburg, Germany, enabling direct feedback to the production team. The tests also proved the passive-adaptive pitch properties of the new design – increasing energy generating potential.

“The EvoFoil Project involves an extensive field and lab testing campaign, to integrate Sustainable Marine’s foil design, including the tip geometry and the overall composition,” said M&D Composites Technology Managing Director Tim Markwald. “A key focus for M&D Composites involves optimizing the manufacturing process of the turbine foils and designing a novel generation of tools to reduce fabrication time and costs. By increasing the energy yield and reducing production costs we can help scale down the overall cost of energy.”

“During the latest lab test campaign, we also monitored foil deformation and fibre strains,” said Carsten Schmidt Leibniz Universität Hannover Head of Research Group High Performance Production of CFRP-Structures. “This is helping to inform broader work to develop a new ‘multi-layer’ material which will improve the mechanical behaviour of the foil and help counteract the various loads. We introduced a novel fibre-optic strain measuring system to improve the monitoring process, providing strain information with a very high spatial and temporal resolution all across the foils surface. We now have unique data which will be used to further improve the design concept.”

Sustainable Marine is receiving advisory services and up to $578,244 in research and development funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) for the two-year project.

Additionally, the German partners on this project are receiving funding support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) through the Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM).

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