Wind turbine manufacturers are moving to larger blades to capture energy more efficiently. Sounds simple enough, but there are real challenges for material systems with the increasing performance demands. Owens Corning (OCV) has developed a new glass fiber reinforcement with 15 percent higher stiffness and up to 30 percent higher strength when compared to traditional glass fiber reinforcements. These innovations helped the turbine manufacturer – the end user – deliver energy at a lower cost per kilowatt-hour. Throughout this effort, Owens Corning had some help from the Center for Multifunctional Polymer Nanomaterials and Devices (CMPND) in Columbus.
As Owens Corning developed its WindStrand™ product line of reinforcement materials, “We were looking at the next major phase of working with the turbine manufacturers, to get the product specified into new designs,” says Teresa Wagner, OCV™ Americas Innovations Leader. “As leaders in the composites market, we also were interested in understanding the next technology needs and solutions that the wind energy market would demand.” She adds, “We saw a great opportunity to work with technology and manufacturing partners who could help us grow the use of composites and the generation of renewable energy technology.”
CMPND facilitated the connections between OCV with the most appropriate partners and helped OCV establish resources that have helped OCV advance its wind energy project portfolio into a solid, competitive position in the commercial marketplace.
“We are actively working with a number of turbine manufacturers to specify WindStrand reinforcements in new, longer blade designs,” says Wagner. OCV benefitted from its relationship with CMPND, because one positive outcome was the resulting collaboration with WebCore Technologies, a manufacturer of high-performance core materials. WebCore’s TYCOR™ product is already getting good reception by wind turbine manufacturers. Both WindStrand™ and TYCOR products have opened very promising technology solutions that will enhance the business development climate within Ohio.
“As we continue to grow with our customers in the wind energy market, our sales of WindStrand reinforcements are expected to take off as the new blade designs are taken to market,” says Wagner.
“Owens Corning is a leader in the composites industry. We understand the requirements for affordable renewable energy generation and are developing products to enable it to grow,” she says. CMPND helped OCV impact the market with speed.
The Center for Multifunctional Polymer Nanomaterials and Devices (CMPND) is a recently formed research and commercialization partnership in polymer nanotechnology. This multi-institutional, interdisciplinary organization is centered at The Ohio State University in conjunction with the University of Akron and University of Dayton. Other partners include three additional Ohio universities and more than 50 large and small companies in Ohio. CMPND puts Ohio at the forefront of nanotechnology research and commercialization opportunities. CMPND helps target markets that build on the research strengths of the participating universities and national labs, and develops manufacturing protocols and nanostructures for near-term industrial polymeric nanocomposites, emerging polymer photonic components and devices, and more futuristic biomedical devices and systems with nanoscale functions.