WINDPOWER: News and new products

Siemens announces new wind turbine nacelle facility in Hutchinson, Kan., and other news from WINDPOWER 2009.

CompositesWorld spent a couple of days at WINDPOWER 2009 (May 4-6, Chicago, Ill.) and filed this report on news and new products introduced at the show.

Wind Energy Services (WES, Independence, Kan.) announced at the show a new office in Worthington, Minn., giving the firm three locations (Kansas, Texas, Minnesota) in the Midwest wind corridor. The company provides pre- and post-installation repair services to wind blades. Before erection, WES repairs aesthetic and structural damage to blades that might have occurred during transport. After turbines and blades are up and running, WES provides repair following lightning strike and of leading-edge corrosion. The latter occurs on every blade and can cause a 5 to 10 percent power loss per blade. Ricardo Arellano, operations manager at WES, said the challenge of repairing wind blades is to minimize downtime and thus maximize energy generation for the customer. His firm provides systematic blade inspection and in-situ repair services. The latter requires substantial training not just in the art of leading-edge composites reconstruction, but also in the art of managing the support, ropes, harnesses and safety equipment technicians use to access a blade. Leading edge repair on one blade he said usually takes about a day to complete; the company typically lays a glass fiber fabric over the edge and then applies polyester or epoxy, depending on customer specification, followed by in-place vacuum infusion.

3M (St. Paul, Minn.) has its eye on the wind market and is targeting OEMs and repair with products in its new Renewable Energy Division, which looks to provide tapes, films, adhesives and coatings to the wind energy market. Mike Strommen, Wind Energy Segment leader, at the show reported that 3M has had success with the introduction of Wind Tape, a product adapted from a material the company originally developed for aerospace use. Wind Tape is designed to overlay a leading edge following composites repair and provides what appears to be more robust leading-edge corrosion protection. To test the tape, 3M sand blasted a board with three types of leading edge composite materials; results show that the Wind Tape resists damage best (see photo). 3M says Wind Tape weighs 0.41 lb/sq-yd and adds about 1 lb/0.45 kg to the weight of a blade when applied to two-thirds of the leading edge. The company also is evaluating films that help reduce blade drag by 7 percent, nanomaterials that enhance resin compression strength, and an epoxy adhesive for blade bonding that is said to provide low exotherm, long pot life and reduced cure time.

The biggest news splash at WINDPOWER was created by Siemens (city, Germany), which attracted a throng to its booth when it announced a new nacelle manufacturing facility in Hutchinson, Kan. The $50 million plant will eventually employ about 400 people and complements Siemens’ existing blade manufacturing facility in Ft. Madison, Iowa.

Carter Products Co. Inc. (Grand Rapids, Mich.) introduced the next generation of its laster alignment system. Designated LP-HFD, improvements include more sophisticated projection capabilities and software upgrades. The system provides an interface to CAD design software; layout and production information is extracted from the CAD program and projected to the work area. The system offers 3-D contour templating and, for wind blades, provides sequential layup guidelines for longitudinal and latitudinal sheet material placement, as well as alignment of reinforcements and bracing if required.

Dassault Systèmes’ SIMULIA (Providence, R.I.) business unit emphasized how its Abaqus finite element analysis (FEA) software can be used to provide simulation for wind blade assemblies. The Abaqus software works within CATIA V5 Composites Design 3 toolset and provides integration of analysis, design and manufacturing of composites structures.

Henkel (Rocky Hill, Conn.) introduced at the show Macroplast UK 8340, reportedly the first Germanisher Lloyd (GL)-certified polyurethane adhesive product for the wind power market. It’s a solvent-free, two-component structural adhesive that fully cures in just 8 hours. The adhesive is applied at room temperature and provides exothermic reaction of less than 100°C/212°F. This low-temperature cure is said to minimize the possibility of substrate damage or stress cracking.

Graco (Minneapolis, Minn.) introduced the DC12, a high-volume metering system that delivers up to 12 kg/26 lb of adhesives per minute, and up to 6 kg/13 lb of tooling paste per minute. It features a touch-panel display, allowing for integration into factory processes. The EnGarde ratio monitoring system has optional external flow meters to offer ratio monitoring independent of the ratio and supply system. Dispensing is said to be accurate to within 3 percent.

GS Manufacturing (Costa Mesa, Calif.), which is best known for equipment it supplies to the marine industry, is boosting it presence in wind energy with the XDS 1000-C108, a dual epoxy resin meter-mix dispensing system. It features two metering pump assemblies, two high-flow supply hose sets and two high-flow dispensing valves. Pneumatic drive motors power the pumps; volume and material ratios are controlled by a combination of gears on each pump and motor. The system comes preset with a 100:36 resin-to-hardener ratio, but this can be adjusted to meet application requirements.