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GE Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech), and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will begin work on a project to develop a fabric for rotor blades that will be tough, flexible, and easier to assemble and maintain.

GE’s research will focus on the use of architectural fabrics, which would be wrapped around a metal spaceframe, resembling a fishbone. Fabric would be tensioned around ribs which run the length of the blade and specially designed to meet the demands of wind blade operations. According to GE, this new blade design could reduce blade costs 25%-40%. The US $5.6 million project will span three years. GE’s blade architecture will be built to achieve a 20 year life with no regular maintenance to tension fabrics required.
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