Winding up towards a sustainable energy future

Aerial view of wind turbines

Collaboration as the key to advancing efficient wind energy

At Dow, we are always looking for new ways to enable sustainability. Our recent collaboration with DowAksa has resulted in a new technology that supports the wind industry in its quest to achieve more with less.

The technology’s revolutionary potential has already been recognized by the Business Intelligence Group (BIG) with an Innovation Award 2021 for breakthrough technology. We received the award in conjunction with DowAksa for creating the world's first commercial polyurethane-carbon fiber spar cap for a new generation of wind blades.


Challenge

How can we help the wind industry decrease its Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) to accelerate our ability to supply more renewable energy in response to an ever-growing demand for power?

Energy captured by a windmill increases with blade length but, weight, tip deflection and installation costs rise accordingly, hindering progress. The key element of a blade structure is the load-carrying part – the spar cap. This part is fundamental as it bears all the wind forces and balances the bending of the blade.

We made it our goal to create a new spar cap technology that will maximize energy production efficiency to support the sustainable growth of green power. Here’s what we’ve achieved:


Solution

We collaborated with DowAksa to investigate how our joint capabilities could help overcome these challenges. The solution we came up with draws from the best of two worlds to combine polyurethanes and carbon fibers using a customized pultrusion process to create a stronger and lighter composite material for use in spar caps.

The main benefits of this technology are the creation of spar caps with superior mechanical properties and reduced weight, along with better productivity for manufacturers. Our combined pultrusion approach simplifies the blade manufacturing process, allowing the reduction of capital cost by up to 25%. This enables the wind industry to optimize their LCOE, furthering the growth of green energy for everyone.

This disruptive technology was made possible by the combination of Dow’s history with material science, polyurethane chemistry and pultrusion processes, with DowAksa’s expertise on carbon fiber technologies. By combining these two diverse but essential sets of expertise, we not only created a new technology but also a new way of approaching technical challenges in the wind industry.

Together, we are stronger. Just like our blades.

This project is one of many that demonstrates how we can achieve our collective goal of creating a better tomorrow if we work together. The development of this novel technology covers the gamut from chemistry to manufacturing hardware, showcasing how we can do more when we approach problems holistically. It demonstrates the power of science and its boundless potential in helping us build a more sustainable future.

 

Learn more about this disruptive technology