A new polyurethane-based composite technology that will help create stronger and longer blades for wind turbines has been developed in the United States.
Scientists at Bayer MaterialScience LLC discovered that polyurethane chemistry improves fatigue and fracture toughness properties over epoxy-based systems currently used commercially. Proof that the government is taking an interest in the new material came when Bayer was asked to display a prototype wind-turbine blade root ring, which wraps around the base of the blade, at the American Wind Energy Association Off-Shore Windpower Conference and Exhibition in Baltimore last year.
“It’s gratifying for our development to be highlighted, particularly in light of the many wind technology projects funded by the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program in the past year,” says Mike Gallagher, director, public sector business, Bayer.
Making blades longer and lower can have considerable impact on productivity. The power generated by a wind turbine is related to the area swept by the blades, with the result that a turbine with blades twice the normal length can generate four times more power. Meanwhile, reducing blade height means less strain is put on turbine components, which will reduce operation and maintenance costs.
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Originally published in Metalworking World 2.2012, a business magazine published by Sandvik Coromant.
Text: Geoff Mortimore
Photo: Getty Images