While there is a huge community of scientists thinking and acting towards the decarbonization of our planet, about one thing we are sure: part of the answer is in the wind. Because of its potential, wind energy is growing at a fast pace. Although, it is said that we need to be installing 390 GW of new wind energy capacity every year to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 (3 to 4x more than current forecasts). To address that, something the wind community has done for years has been to increase the size of wind turbines. Simply put (A = πr²), the larger the radius (r), the more energy is generated (it follows the square footage of the rotor). Sounds like an easy process, even though, larger turbines also mean longer blades, and here lays one of the biggest challenges blade designers face every day – or every 2-4 years: if they simply use the same material systems, more length means more weight. If they merely use different higher performance materials, more length can exponentially result in more costs, or even become a headache in terms of material availability or processability. Therefore, if longer, lighter, stronger blades ask for improved material systems that keep a balance between performance and costs, a compelling path is to leverage new high-modulus glass generations through different processes, such as pultrusion, to build structural parts of wind blades, like spar caps. Based on that, Owens Corning has designed a new alternative to the traditional fabric infusion when building spar caps, using higher modulus glass: ULTRASPAR™, a pultruded plank custom designed that balances an increased Fiber Volume Fraction (FVF) to maintain strong fatigue performance, eliminates on-site spar cap infusion and delivers a consistent fiber alignment. Finally, in our presentation we will highlight the outlook of the future pultruded planks demand in the wind industry, other opportunities leveraged by new higher-modulus glass generations and introduce a unique way to bring these opportunities to life.
Speaker: Jens Bölke, Owens Corning