Asia’s first wind turbine rotor blade made of polyurethane fabricated in China

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Resin supplier Covestro has teamed up with glass fiber manufacturer Chongqing Polycomp International (CPIC), vacuum pressure infusion system process technology specialist HÜBERS (Bocholt, Germany) ,and the Shanghai FRP Research Institute to manufacture the first ever rotor blade made from polyurethane for wind turbines in Asia.

The 37.5-meter-long rotor blade is designed for a wind turbine with an output of 1.5 MW. The vacuum pressure infusion system that was employed utilized continuous degassing.

According to Kim Klausen, global head of the Wind Energy Program at Covestro, the milestone is further proof of the performance and cost advantages of polyurethanes over epoxy resins in wind power generation. The polyurethane resin has very good physical properties, excellent flowability and it thoroughly wets the glass fibers. Furthermore, less thermal energy is released during its processing than with epoxy resins.

“The faster curing significantly improves productivity,” says Kim Klausen, “and that gives manufacturers a major cost advantage.” The resin was developed via a close collaboration between the Covestro Wind Competence Center in Denmark and the Polymer Research Development Center (PRDC) of Covestro in Shanghai.

Covestro researcher Chenxi Zhang recently presented the new development at the China Summit Forum 2016 for International Wind Power Composite Materials in Zhejiang. He explained to the more than 500 wind power experts the advantages of the polyurethane system and the progress Covestro has made working together with glass fiber suppliers, process engineering partners and rotor blade manufacturers.

At the summit, Roland Stoer, general manager of WINDnovation, a leading rotor blade design company, commented about the use of polyurethane thus: “We would like to optimize rotor blade design and take full advantage of the benefits of polyurethanes. We are impressed by Covestro’s research capability and commitment, and would like to cooperate with the company to design even more sophisticated rotor blades in the future.”

In the latest report on the Chinese government’s progress, Prime Minister Keqiang Li called for a higher percentage of clean energy, a move that would encourage the further expansion of wind power systems in China. In this year alone, China is expected to add more than 30 GW to its installed wind power capacity.

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