Document Type



Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering

First Adviser

Grenestedt, Joachim L.


This report presents a theoretical, numerical and experimental study of composite wind turbine spars under bending loads. Spars were made from commercially available glass/ carbon fiber material. The spars were composed of uniaxial (0°) flanges and biaxial (+/-45°) shear webs. Items of particular study were co-block polymer additives in vinyl ester resins, a presumably new spar design, and using carbon fiber pultrusions for spar caps (flanges). Composites are very strong and thus tend to be thin, which exacerbates the problem of buckling. Further, fibers also buckle at the micro level, leading to lower effective compression strength than tensile strength of a composite. Many structures tend to buckle in out of plane direction which can cause early and abrupt failure. A 3-point bend test rig was manufactured in-house for experimentally testing composite spars. The experiments indicated abrupt failure without any sign or other form of damage. Limited number of spars was made with slightly different construction. All spars were subjected to same testing environment. Finite element analyses were performed in order to shed light on the failure mechanisms leading to catastrophic failure. The FE code Ansys was used for the analyses. 3D models were developed, loads were applied, and linear elastic static as well as buckling analyses were performed. The results obtained from analysis were in reasonable agreement with the experimental tests.