Lighter, tougher wind turbine developed
At Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, a researcher has developed a prototype that would allow larger wind turbines to capture more energy without the extra weight of the lengthened blades.
Marcio Loos, a post-doctoral researcher with the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering, has found that polyurethane reinforced with carbon nanotubes outperforms all of the materials currently used in wind turbines – the prototype blade is substantially lighter and eight times tougher and more durable, in fact.
This new product could be the future of renewable energy from wind, as larger turbines mean more power generated. The market for wind energy is expanding, but bigger blades previously meant heavier blades and thus, more wind was needed to turn them and less energy could be captured.
"The idea behind all this is the need to develop stronger and lighter materials which will enable manufacturing of blades for larger rotors," Loos explained.
Loos created the prototype, the world's first polyurethane blade reinforced with carbon nanotubes, in his spare time on weekends.
According to Frank Jackson, a guest columnist for the Plain Dealer, Cleveland could become an American leader in the field of renewable energy if the city follows through on plans to develop the nation's first freshwater wind farm. Lake Erie Energy Development is currently developing the project.