By Andrew Smith
University News Service
November 22, 2013
Texas State University undergraduate student Sergio Espinoza was awarded first place in the October 2013 SAMPE (Society for Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering) Technical Conference’s Student Poster Competition for his presentation of original wind turbine improvement research.
Espinoza’s research examines the strengthening effects of nanosilica composites on wind turbine blades. When coated in highly engineered glass resins, turbine blades became 10-15 times more resistant to stress fractures and were able to withstand an average of three times as many rotations before failing.
Most commercially-available wind turbines feature blades that range from 110 to 160 feet in length and rotate at up to 180 mph. The high-speed revolutions subject blades to severe stress and require building materials that are both lightweight and durable. The application of nanosilica composites could reduce the need for frequent repairs and allow more turbines to remain operational.
Jitendra Tate of the university’s Manufacturing Engineering Program provided Espinoza with additional guidance as he conducted his research. Texas State graduate student Andres Alvarez also competed in the SAMPE Student Poster Competition. The Manufacturing Engineering Program equips students with knowledge and skills that can be used to improve existing technologies and progress engineering-based industries.
Espinoza’s accomplishment represents the important role of students in establishing Texas State as a renowned research university.