Since Covestro’s introduction of the world’s first polyurethane wind turbine rotor blade in April, the technology has received widespread recognition in the wind and composite industries. With its innovative use of a polyurethane resin in the manufacture of wind turbine rotor blades, Covestro won the JEC Innovation Award at the 22nd China Composite Expo in September.
Innovative Use of Polyurethane for Wind Turbine Rotor Blades Receives Industry Recognition
Wind turbine rotor blades are typically made out of fiberglass reinforced resin through vacuum infusion technology. The successful use of polyurethane composite for manufacturing large-scale wind turbine rotor blades suggests that the polyurethane resin itself not only features superior mechanical properties and anti-fatigue performance, but also facilitates the production process. With a faster curing process and better processing properties, it leads to higher productivity. In addition, it enables the production process to be more environmentally-friendly due to its low level of VOC (volatile organic compounds). Making the entire rotor blade out of polyurethane opens a new realm of possibilities for this high-performance resin.
In June, project entries for the China Composite Expo-JEC Innovation Award were collected. After the initial evaluation phase by several expert judges from China and France, 34 projects were selected based on criteria which included innovativeness, technical certification and economic benefits. Due to Covestro’s remarkable project showcasing its R&D breakthrough on the use of polyurethane in manufacturing wind turbine rotor blades, the project received the Innovation Award. This recognition in the form of a prestigious award from the composite industry also suggests that the polyurethane infusion technology for wind turbine rotor blades is highly appreciated by the industry.
Dr. Irene Li, Head of Polyurethane Application Development, Covestro, Asia Pacific, said at the awards ceremony, “This recognition from industry experts for the use of polyurethane in wind turbine rotor blades boosts our confidence in the project’s viability. We will team up with more industry partners to install polyurethane rotor blades on wind farms, thus contributing to the advancement of renewable wind energy.”
Listening to Industry Needs and Speeding Up Product Development
Afterwards, Covestro’s technical team engaged in further discussions with dozens of industry experts about the broad applications of polyurethane in wind turbine rotor blades. Nearly 50 representatives from wind power plants, blade factories, and composite application businesses were invited to the Covestro Polymer R&D Center to visit its R&D facilities and examine the superior properties of the polyurethane blade. During the visit, Yuan Yao, the vice general manager and chief engineer of Chongqing Polycomp International (CPIC), said, “Covestro has a strong R&D team and innovation capability. We will keep pushing forward the application of polyurethane for wind turbine blades.” Jenny Geng, the marketing director of Covestro Asia Pacific responded, “Product development can hardly be done without listening to needs of market and customers. With our solutions, we can contribute toward reducing the overall cost of wind turbine rotor blades. Together with our partners, we will collaborate to produce longer and lighter blades with higher power generation efficiency.”
With 2015 sales of EUR 12.1 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites around the globe and employs approximately 15,700 people (full-time equivalents) as of the end of 2016.
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