Tindall turbine base technology lifts wind energy wattage

A major land transaction and product design certification have Tindall Corp. on track to break ground this month on a $60 million-plus plant dedicated to the Atlas Concrete Tower Base (CTB). An engineering innovation enabling wind farm operators to extend turbines to a 325- to 460-ft. (100- to 140-meter) height range—extracting more power than shorter structures currently operating—the Atlas CTB comprises precast concrete staves, 87 ft. long and tapering from a 14-ft. base to 3.5-ft. top width.

Earlier this year, Spartanburg, S.C.-based Tindall closed on a 230-acre parcel in the Kansas Logistics Center, a rail-served development in Newton, north of Wichita, between Interstate 35 and Interstate 135. The precast/prestressed producer announced plans for the Atlas CTB operation last year, projecting a nine-month construction window for a 150,000- to 200,000-sq.-ft. plant enclosure. Tindall expects to begin production in early 2012, ramping up to a payroll of 200 during the first year, and 400 employees by mid-decade.

Land acquisition for what will be Tindall’s sixth and largest operation followed Atlas CTB certification by Germanischer Lloyd, whose wind power equipment audits are recognized worldwide. “The GL Strength Design certification confirms our engineering concept and clears the way for the wind power industry to install turbines above 100 meters and up to 140 meters,” affirms Tindall Chairman William Lowndes III. “The Atlas CTB will enable our customers to take advantage of stronger, steadier winds that generate more renewable power.”

Sized for highway or rail hauling, the system’s pie-shaped staves form robust 10-, 12-, 14-, or 16-piece cones—erected, assembled and post-tensioned in multiple conditions on site. Engineered with post-tensioned concrete tube sections securing steel turbine masts, the cones bear on simple, cast-in-place ring foundations requiring about one-third the concrete of a standard, ground-anchored structure.

Tindall engineers Bryant Zavitz and Kevin Kirkley, who liken the Atlas CTB’s appearance to an inverted peach basket, note that the design concept “promises significant economic advantages relative to installed cost, schedule compression, extended life cycle and reduced maintenance. On-site construction is significantly shorter with the Atlas design … Site work becomes principally erection instead of construction. No welding and requisite testing are necessary. Apart from the foundation, no concrete forms have to be built.”  — Don Marsh