Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mightier Wind

Nanomaterials and Gigaturbines

Huge wind turbine blade being transported through small town
 ~ Manufacturers are eyeing wind turbines of 10MW and are even pondering behemoths of as much as 15MW. Such monsters wold have blades longer than football fields, requiring different material sets than are in use today.
[Marcio] Loos [a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering] went to the lab on weekends and built the world's first polyurethane blade reinforced with carbon nanotubes. He wanted to be sure the composite that was scoring best on preliminary tests could be molded into the right shape and maintain properties.

Using a small commercial blade as a template, he manufactured a 29-inch blade that is substantially lighter, more rigid and tougher.
Sounds great, but, as one person noted in the comments, a spiffy and cutting edge technology matters little unless it is scalable, has a good supply chain, and, above, all, is cost-competitive. Oh, and how will they get it from the factory to the site?

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