In fast-moving areas of technology it’s often a case of first having an idea, then start making it and only then getting around to designing it as you go along. That was not exactly the case when Al Newton and AC Marine & Composites co-founder Katinka Burmester found themselves looking, at very short notice, for large premises plus a long shopping list of specialised equipment, to respond to a ‘very’ serious enquiry from Atlantis Resources, world leaders in tidal power generation.
An initial period spent pre-manufacture testing brought unexpected benefits: AC Marine & Composites (ACM&C) set new benchmarks, by infusing up to 120mm of carbon Triaxial laminate in one hit and on a repeatable basis. This initial period doubled up as a final round of ‘interviews’ before the company was awarded the manufacturing contract itself – ahead of 19 of Europe’s largest composite groups.
Virtually overnight the ACM&C team moved from prototyping into the task of building the first commercially viable composite tidal turbine blades – designed and built to drive a Lockheed Martin AR1500, 1.5MW horizontal turbine complete with active pitch and yaw capability. The nacelle of the AR1500 weighs 150 tonnes in air with a design life of 25 years. Rotor diameter is 18m and all systems have triple redundancy for reliability offshore.
The task for ACM&C grew wider. Build the new facility, fit it out to a rigorous specification, while starting to manufacture high-precision substantial carbon blades of some 8m in length… And at the same time hiring and training an international workforce and under rigorous confidentiality agreements. Taking photographs remains strictly verboten at ACM&C. Read on.