Energy Department laboratory hosts 3D-printed turbine foundation tests

PHOTO: U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Suction-bucket support structures at the center of the RCAM and Accucode 3D concrete printing investigation are shown in a rendering applied to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory wind turbine photo. RCAM also illustrates the concept for off-shore application, noting how the foundation structures can be wet towed and quietly installed with the turbines partially or fully assembled as a heavy lift vessel alternative.

MARINE ILLUSTRATIONS: RCAM Technologies, Boulder, Colo.

A $250,000 infusion from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade’s Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Program will position Boulder-based concrete construction specialist RCAM Technologies and technology integrator Accucode Inc. to develop wind energy components using 3D printing methods. The grant supports RCAM work on a concrete wind turbine foundation with the potential to reduce offshore deployment costs by up to $4 million per structure and $400 million per plant. The firm will use the funding to expand its 3D concrete printing capabilities at two Colorado partner locations: the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, and Accucode’s new Colorado Springs facility.

“This will allow us to establish large scale 3D concrete printing capabilities and utilize NREL’s world-class testing facilities to advance our technologies,” says RCAM CEO Jason Cotrell. The firm will first install a printing system at NREL, he adds, where team members will begin fabricating fixed-bottom support structures for offshore wind turbines. After manufacturing and assembly processes have been tested, equipment will be moved to Colorado Springs for further research & development. Accucode’s team of engineers and concrete printing experts will then use the equipment to develop and test 3D concrete printing for a variety of renewable energy and civil infrastructure applications.

“3D technology is in the process of disrupting how we make everything, including commercial construction. Accucode 3D and The 3D Printing Store are proud to partner with RCAM to lead the way,” affirms Accucode CEO Kevin Price.