WETO Small Business Funding Expands Wind Tech

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The Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) of the U.S. Department of Energy has revealed that it will be offering extra financial support to two small businesses under the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. This funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and is aimed at hastening the adoption of wind energy. The companies had previously been granted SBIR Phase I and Phase II awards, and have now been awarded Phase III SBIR grants worth between $600,000 and $1,100,000 each to develop their technologies further and make them commercially viable.

Turbine Blade Recycling

Carbon Rivers has created a novel method for recycling wind turbine blades, wherein retired blades are processed to recover glass fibers that can be used in future composite manufacturing. This technology could potentially divert wind blades and other reinforced plastics from landfills and repurpose them as lightweight materials for fuel-efficient vehicles or new wind turbine blades. During Phase I, Carbon Rivers converted retired wind turbine blade material into useful recovered glass fiber. During Phase II, a pilot-scale production line capable of processing 1 ton/day was developed and implemented.

Thanks to a $1.1 million BIL-funded SBIR Phase III grant, Carbon Rivers can improve its wind turbine blade recycling process to convert the existing recycled glass fiber into non-woven fabrics that can be utilized in the construction of new turbine blades as well as other industries such as marine, construction, and aerospace. This grant will also support Carbon Rivers’ plan for a facility that can recycle up to 5,000 blades per year.

Offshore Wind Atmospheric Conditions

Meanwhile, Boulder Environmental Science and Technology (BEST) is working on a microwave radiometer, which is a device that can accurately assess atmospheric conditions where these turbines are located. BEST will measure various factors like temperature and humidity profiles, cloud characteristics, and water vapor over extended periods of time. These data will aid in improving the understanding of atmospheric-ocean conditions offshore, which can be utilized in wind energy simulations to enhance the reliability and power production of wind turbines. With an additional $600,000 WETO-funded SBIR Phase III grant, BEST can develop an efficient radiometer for deployment on small marine platforms.

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