Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers build a tougher, lighter wind turbine blade

Polyurethane reinforced with carbon nanotubes outperforms currently used materials

Efforts to build larger wind turbines able to capture more energy from the air are stymied by the weight of blades. A Case Western Reserve University researcher has built a prototype blade that is substantially lighter and eight times tougher and more durable than currently used blade materials.

Marcio Loos, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering, works with colleagues at Case Western Reserve, and investigators from Bayer MaterialScience in Pittsburgh, and Molded Fiber Glass Co. in Ashtabula, Ohio, comparing the properties of new materials with the current standards used in blade manufacturing.

On his own, Loos went to the lab on weekends and built the world's first polyurethane blade reinforced with carbon nanotubes. He wanted to be sure the composite that was scoring best on preliminary tests could be molded into the right shape and maintain properties.

Using a small commercial blade as a template, he manufactured a 29-inch blade that is substantially lighter, more rigid and tougher.

"The idea behind all this is the need to develop stronger and lighter materials which will enable manufacturing of blades for larger rotors," Loos said.

That's an industry goal.

In order to achieve the expansion expected in the market for wind energy, turbines need a bigger share of the wind. But, simply building larger blades isn't a smart answer.

The heavier the blades, the more wind is needed to turn the rotor. That means less energy is captured. And the more the blades flex in the wind, the more they lose the optimal shape for catching moving air, so, even less energy is captured.

Lighter, stiffer blades enable maximum energy and production.

"Results of mechanical testing for the carbon nanotube reinforced polyurethane show that this material outperforms the currently used resins for wind blades applications," said Ica Manas-Zloczower, professor of macromolecular science and engineering and associate dean in the Case School of Engineering.

Loos is working in the Manas-Zloczower lab where she and Chemical Engineering Professor Donald L. Feke, a vice provost at the university, serve as advisors on the project.

In a comparison of reinforcing materials, the researchers found carbon nanotubes are lighter per unit of volume than carbon fiber and aluminum and had more than 5 times the tensile strength of carbon fiber and more than 60 times that of aluminum.

Fatigue testing showed the reinforced polyurethane composite lasts about eight times longer than epoxy reinforced with fiberglass. The new material was also about eight times tougher in delamination fracture tests.

The performance in each test was even better when compared to vinyl ester reinforced with fiberglass, another material used to make blades.

The new composite also has shown fracture growth rates at a fraction of the rates found for traditional epoxy and vinyl ester composites.

Loos and the rest of the team are continuing to test for the optimal conditions for the stable dispersion of nanotubes, the best distribution within the polyurethane and methods to make that happen.

The functional prototype blades built by Loos, which were used to turn a 400-watt turbine, will be stored in our laboratory, Manas-Zloczower said. "They will be used to emphasize the significant potential of carbon nanotube reinforced polyurethane systems for use in the next generation of wind turbine blades."

The research is funded by a U.S. Department of Energy stimulus grant and Bayer MaterialScience.

Kevin Mayhood | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Researchers demonstrate existence of new form of electronic matter
15.03.2018 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Boron can form a purely honeycomb, graphene-like 2-D structure
15.03.2018 | Science China Press

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>