China is the world’s largest wind power market with 221 GW of installed capacity at the end of 2018, according to the World Wind Energy Association. The blades, produced by Zhuzhou Times New Material Technology (TMT), have then been delivered to Envision. They are scheduled to be installed in a wind farm in East China in July 2019.
Covestro delivered polyurethane resin to TMT for the production of 18 polyurethane wind blades of 59.5-meter-length, also for the spar caps and shear webs. These blades were delivered to Envision, heralding the successful deployment of Covestro’s innovative polyurethane resin in blades for commercial wind farm projects.
To ensure successful deployment, the Covestro wind power team produced a prototype of the wind blades which has passed static and fatigue tests. The prototype was put into trial operation at a wind farm in central China in 2018.
Polyurethane resin – a game-changing innovation
Ulrich Liman, Global Head of R&D, Business Unit Polyurethanes at Covestro said, “We are very excited to be working with Envision and TMT on this first sales order of PU wind blades in China. Polyurethane resin in the production of wind blades, is a game-changing innovation delivered by Covestro teams around the world. We remain committed to our vision of creating products that benefit society and improve people’s lives all over the world.”
Zilu Liang, Deputy Chief Engineer, Wind Power Products at TMT, said, “As an innovative material, polyurethane, compared to epoxy resin, has advantages in costs and in the production process. We have cooperated with Covestro since 2016, and now we have achieved continuous production. We hope to further collaborate with Covestro to explore large-scale wind blades and wind blades completely made of polyurethane.”
Covestro’s novel polyurethane infusion resin was developed to help the wind power industry meet the growing demand for longer wind blade designs. Wind turbine rotor blades of this kind are typically made out of fibreglass-reinforced resin by applying vacuum infusion technology. The successful use of polyurethane resin for manufacturing large-scale rotor blades for wind turbines suggests that the material itself features superior mechanical properties and anti-fatigue performance. There are also benefits for the production processes in the wind blade factory, for example, a faster curing process and better processing properties to deliver higher productivity levels.
Irene Li, Head of PU Application Development Asia Pacific at Covestro, summarised, “This is the first step to realising the industrialisation of polyurethane resin in the wind industry, opening up a new chapter in polyurethane chemistry. We believe that our polyurethane solution delivers significant advantages in wind blade production and along the value chain.”