Aggregates giant LafargeHolcim to develop wind turbines with 3D printed concrete bases

LafargeHolcim is working with GE Renewable Energy and construction printing company COBOD to develop wind turbines with 3D printed concrete bases, reaching heights up to 200 metres.

LafargeHolcim says the solution will increase renewable energy production while lowering the levelised cost of energy and optimising construction costs.

Henrik Lund-Nielsen, founder of COBOD International A/S, says: “We are convinced that this disruptive move within the wind turbines industry will help drive lower costs and faster execution times, to benefit customers and lower the CO2 footprint from the production of energy.”

The partners will produce a wind turbine prototype with a printed pedestal and a production ready printer and materials range. They will also explore ways to develop taller towers that capture stronger winds with the aim of generating more renewable energy per turbine.

LafargeHolcim claims wind turbine towers have typically been limited to a height of under 100 metres as the width of the base can not exceed the 4.5-metre diameter that can be transported by road, without excessive additional costs.

According to the building materials giant, printing a variable height base directly on-site with 3D-printed concrete technology will enable the construction of towers up to 150 to 200 meters tall.

A 5 MW turbine at 80 meters typically generates 15.1 gigawatt hours (GWh) yearly, but the same turbine at 160 metres would generate 20.2 GWh, the company adds.

Matteo Bellucci advanced manufacturing technology leader for GE Renewable Energy, says: “We believe that Large format additive manufacturing will bring disruptive potential to the wind Industry.

“Concrete printing has advanced significantly over the last five years and we believe is getting closer to have real application in the industrial world.

“We are committed to taking full advantage of this technology both from the design flexibility it allows as well as for the logistic simplification it enables on such massive components.”

GE Renewable Energy will provide resources related to the design, manufacture and commercialisation of the wind turbines, COBOD will focus on the robotics automation and 3D printing and LafargeHolcim will design the tailor-made concrete material, its processing and application.

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