Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -- Bayer MaterialScience llc is moving forward with research and testing on the viability of polyurethane composites reinforced with Baytubes - Bayer's carbon nanotubes -- for potential use in blades for 1.5+ MW wind turbines.
This project is part-funded by a $750 000 grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) in July 2009. BMS said a core element of the research is to optimise the base formulations and functionality of carbon nanotubes to meet or exceed existing material performance.
BMS is subcontracting some of the R&D to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Molded Fiber Glass Companies in Ashtabula, Ohio, in this project, called "Carbon Nanotube Reinforced Polyurethane Composites for Wind Turbine Blades."
"The wind industry has indicated that development of stronger,lightweight composite technology could lead to as much as a 35 percentincrease in turbine energy output," said Mike Gallagher, director, Government Services Group, BMS llc, in the group's 16 March statement, noting that BMS is keen to "work with industry and academia to study the viability of applying our polyurethane and other composites reinforced with carbon nanotubes to help the wind energy industry develop stronger, larger and lighter wind turbine blades."
Reinforcing PU systems with carbon nanotubes during the resin phase can create as much as a 50 percent increase in strength-to-weight ratio - when the resin component of the composite is modified to percolation levels of 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent, said BMS.
Polyurethane-based systems can also use bio-based components and can be tailored to eliminate the post-cure step, which can reduce energy costs. This project will explore zero volatile organic compound (VOC) polyurethane-based systems as a low emissions technology to further reduce the carbon footprint, said BMS.