A Force for a Sustainable Future
Hexion Plays a Vital Role in Taking Wind Energy to the Next Level
The benefits of wind energy are abundant. It is clean, sustainable, reliable and efficient, and is now seen as a proven technology. Already a less expensive renewable energy source, wind is becoming more cost effective all the time and is starting to compete effectively with conventional sources of energy, especially fossil fuels such as natural gas or coal. Wind energy systems require minimal maintenance and operating expense. And, unlike sources of energy that may be subject to the politics of supply, wind promises a stable, long-term price for power production.
Hexion wind energy science has been at the forefront since the beginning, supplying the industry with cutting-edge resin systems. The longstanding technological challenge has been to develop stronger, lighter composite materials that will help manufacturers create longer, lighter, stronger, less expensive rotor blades, thus allowing this highly desirable power source to compete in the marketplace with less expensive sources of energy.
This year, Hexion has unleashed three new products particularly suited to lowering the cost of wind energy production while, at the same time, making it more practical than ever. These innovations are pushing wind energy ever closer to the mainstream of energy production.
The first of these products, EPIKOTE™ Resin MGS RIMR™ 145, makes it a lot easier and more cost effective for windmill rotor blade manufacturers to make thick, yet super-strong and lightweight components. This resin infusion system can be used to make both carbon and glass fiber reinforced composites. Carbon composites are desirable, especially for high-stress components, because these composites exhibit greater compressive strength, are stiffer, and weigh less than glass fiber composites.
While other resins are already available to make carbon fiber composites, this new low-viscosity product can be used with carbon fiber that has not been pre-impregnated with resin before molding. Being able to leave out the costly, time-consuming pre-impregnation step is a big deal for manufacturers. Furthermore, the new resin is stronger than the benchmark resin and provides superior processing properties, such as low heat output and low viscosity. The overall benefit: longer, lighter, less expensive blades, and a more competitive energy source.
Another Hexion product rotor blade makers are talking about is a new bond paste—EPIKOTE MGS BP 435. Building on the industry standard—Hexion BP135G3—company scientists developed a paste with four times the strength and fatigue resistance of the previous benchmark.
“The higher ultimate strain the material withstands makes this resin specifically suitable for new flat back blade designs that see higher deflection loads under reversed edgewise bending,” explained Hexion Business Director Johannes Meunier. Furthermore, improvements in texture, thickness, and how fast the paste cures can result in quicker manufacturing, while the new paste’s lowered density reduces blade weight and cost. These improvements add up to economical, much more reliable blades—and a huge sigh of relief from those responsible for producing and maintaining today’s massive wind turbines.
A third new Hexion product geared toward streamlining rotor blade manufacturing is an improved resin for glass fiber infusion—EPIKOTE MGS RIMR 1035. What’s innovative about this product? As rotor blades get larger, certain linking parts such as shear webs, blade shells and spar caps have to be made thicker. But during manufacture, ongoing chemical reactions within the resins give off heat. The thicker the component being made, the higher the peak internal temperature. Unfortunately, such high temperatures are actually a problem.
High internal peak temperatures are associated with uneven curing, mechanical weakening and lower fatigue resistance. Therefore, it is crucial that heat development within thick composites be controlled during manufacture. EPIKOTE MGS RIMR 1035 is a special resin infusion system that incorporates a new, patented technology designed to lower viscosity and limit internal heat rise during the infusion of very thick structures. At the same time, required curing times are much reduced, thus enhancing rotor blade manufacturers’ productivity.
The resulting resin has several advantages. Its lowered viscosity means the resin can be squirted into the mold more quickly. The lowered heat rise, or exotherm, means the resin is safer to process and cools down and cures faster, for a quicker turnaround time. It also means the final product isn’t wrinkled or shrunken, and reliably exhibits improved mechanical and fatigue performance.
These three product innovations are just a sample of Hexion’s wind energy offerings. Hexion is committed to finding ways to make this type of energy more feasible. Our research and development teams are relentless in their efforts to improve the materials available to designers and manufacturers. Demand for wind energy is growing in leaps and bounds. By making wind power more efficient and cost effective so that it can occupy a greater share of the global energy grid, Hexion is helping to ensure a sustainable future.