Spar cap Mass and Spar to Blade Weight Ratio at Various Blade Length: Glass vs Carbon Fiber

Figure 7: Spar cap Mass and Spar to Blade Weight Ratio at Various Blade Length: Glass v/s Carbon Fiber (Source: Lucintel)

Material suppliers are stepping up to the plate to provide solutions to the wind market. Owens Corning, PPG and 3B introduced glass fiber with high strength and stiffness properties. Resin suppliers such as Huntsman, Dow Chemical, Ashland and DSM have launched toughened resin systems for wind applications. A new resin from DSM – ZW7844 – offers wind turbine blade manufacturers the mechanical performance of epoxy resin with the processing advantages of unsaturated polyester resin. Bayer Material Science recently introduced a new class of nano-enhanced Baydur polyurethane systems, which offer blade manufacturers low volatile organic compound emissions and faster infusion time.

Another overall trend in composites is the use of environmentally-friendly materials for various applications. This has led to significant innovations in formulations of bio-based resins. New refinery technology that can produce plant-based bio-chemicals for key resin monomers are also driving this market. Many resin suppliers, including AOC, Ashland, Reichhold, Huntsman, DSM, Cereplast, Natureworks, Dixie Chemical and CTS, are developing resin systems which have less volatile content. There is still not much traction in the use of bio-resin in the composites industry, however its usage is increasing in other industries. Some of the applications for bio-resins and natural composites are in electronics and automotive industries. (For an in-depth look at bio-resins, read “Bio-Resin Market: Still Budding, But No Boom”)

In conclusion, there is both opportunity and risk in driving innovations. Approximately 95 percent of new product launches fail for various reasons, including insufficient market research, ineffective marketing and poor understanding of the competition. Sophisticated analytical tools and data-driven decisions can reduce risks. It is important to cautiously invest in opportunities that will bring long-term growth.