“Not many industries are growing at that fast,” he added.
The firm – which provides a mix of epoxy and PU materials into the wind turbine manufacturing sector - has a global wind competence centre in Denmark. The centre coordinates activity all over the world with R&D remaining in the company’s Leverkusen, Germany HQ.
The main cost associated with wind turbines comes from the manufacturing process, said Klausen adding that Covestro’s attention is focused mainly on the rotor blades of the turbines.
In wind turbine production, he said polyurethanes offer a number of benefits compared with other materials: “We can infuse much faster because the starting viscosity is lower. The use of one third of an epoxy system makes it possible to infuse much faster. PU is also slightly cheaper than epoxy.”
“We can infuse much faster because the starting viscosity is lower,”
Covestro Nordic ceo Kim Klausen
Covestro’s rotor blades are fabricated using a polyurethane resin and a glass fibre fabric and the resin received the DNV GL certification in March 2016. DNV GL is an international industry standard for the safety, reliability and performance of wind turbines and, according to Covestro it was the first company to be certified.
“The pinpoint of industry at the moment is the cost of energy. After that, it’s all about cost versus input. The time has come to establish the high performance and cost advantages of polyurethane in wind power generation,” he added.
New generation insulation
Continuing the energy efficiency theme, project manager Marc Fricke’s presentation outlined what his company, BASF is claiming will be the “next generation of insulation materials.”
While Fricke won’t reveal whether the new Slentite material is MDI or TDI-based PU, he did say the company spent over 10 years developing it.
Fricke said: “It is a special type of PU, the world’s first PU aerogel," he added. "Usually aerogel is made from silica, which is very brittle but this is cuttable and handle-able.”
“The challenge for society will be retrofitting original buildings. There is also a challenge in new buildings as we face new challenges like lack of space.”
“It is the world’s first PU aerogel.”
BASF project manager Marc Fricke
He said the firm’s Lemforde, Germany-based pilot plant for production of Slentite panels, which opened last year, is running smoothly. Samples are 40cm by 60cm.
In terms of cost, he said Slentite will be “much more expensive than standard PU. This will be a special material for applications where other materials fail. We are not saying that this will be a replacement for an insulation board but it will fill the gap between that and vacuum insulation," he added.
Tempur absorbs energy