Dow and Bayer Create Materials For Lighter Wind Turbine Blades

It's a given that wind turbines are revolutionizing power generation across the globe. Germany, for example, is going to rely on fleets of off shore wind turbines to move away from nuclear power. But to make wind competitive with coal and natural gas, increasing blade length is as important as site selection and wind predicability analysis.

Because the power generated by a wind turbine is related to the area swept by the blades, doubling the blade length generates four times more power - but adds dangerous structural stress. So with bigger and better, comes reduced weight and fracture toughness. (The conjoined design twins of wind energy.) Two companies, Dow Chemical and Bayer MaterialScience (read article), are steadily introducing new materials to give blade designers more options in the race toward 9 and 10 MW turbines. Watch Dow's video in the right hand window.

How far will advances in materials take turbines?

Photo: Wind turbine blades - Harvey McDaniel


Robert S's picture

These advancements will likely increase difficulty in getting approval for installations. Larger windmills will have more visual and (at least perceived if not actual) environmental impact. So many fights are over windmills "ruining" someone's view, while technically feasible I wonder how much longer it will take to overcome social obstacles than the technical obstacles.

harrington.kent's picture

I think a lot of these will be used off shore, particularly floating offshore, where siting issues are nonexistent.