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What are the new materials and chemicals in the wind power industry?

Wind power is one of the most promising renewable energy sources in China. Wind power can be utilized sustainably and is low-carbon and clean, widely distributed, flexible in installation and dismantling, and has less impact on the ecology. And, according to the current carbon emission cycle of the wind power industry, compared with the carbon emission cycle of clean energy, wind power is the lowest average carbon emissions of photovoltaic, thermoelectric power, hydropower, nuclear power, gas power, coal power generation type.

It is also due to the many advantages of wind power, driving the rapid development of the wind power industry. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, by the end of 2022, China’s cumulative installed capacity of wind power amounted to 370 million kilowatts, a year-on-year increase of 12.8%, accounting for 13.5% of China’s total installed capacity. According to the “14th Five-Year Plan” Renewable Energy Development Plan, “14th Five-Year Plan” Modern Energy System Plan and other documents, by 2025, the renewable energy generation capacity reached 3.3 trillion kWh, and the wind power generation capacity was doubled compared to 2020, i.e. over 564 million kilowatt-hours.

It can be said that the wind power industry is the wind vane of the development of China’s new energy industry, the rapid development of the wind power industry, driving the demand for new materials and chemicals in its industrial chain of rapid growth. So, what new materials and chemicals will be used in the wind power industry?

According to the sorting, the wind power industry, chemicals and new materials will be used in the links and components, there are the following: blades, blade molds, core materials, structural adhesives, wind motors, marine cables, land cables, tower, wind castings, etc., of which the wind blade is the core component of the wind power generator, accounting for more than 20% of the total cost.

(A) wind turbine blade material composition

Wind turbine is a power generation device composed of blades, transmission system, generator, energy storage equipment, tower and electrical system. Blade is the core component of wind turbine to capture wind energy, and its aerodynamic performance directly affects the power generation efficiency of the whole system as well as the service life of the hub and other key components.

The key to obtaining greater wind power lies in having blades that can rotate quickly, so the design of the blades and the choice of materials are always the focus of the wind power industry. According to the network information, the cost of wind power blade composition, in which the matrix resin accounted for 36% of the cost structure, reinforcing materials accounted for 28% of the cost structure, followed by binder, metal, coating, core material and other auxiliary materials. Therefore, for wind turbine blade materials, the choice of matrix resin is the key element to determine the cost and quality of blade materials.

Glass fiber reinforced plastic is currently one of the most widely used wind turbine blade materials, with light weight, high strength, excellent corrosion resistance, and relatively low cost, compared with the traditional steel blade, glass fiber blade manufacturing process and cost is more mature, as well as widely used in wind farms.

Epoxy resin is now widely used in wind turbine blade materials. Epoxy resin is a high-performance material with excellent mechanical properties, chemical stability and corrosion resistance. In wind turbine blade manufacturing, epoxy resin is widely used in the structural parts, connectors and coatings of the blades.

In the parts of the blade’s support structure, skeleton and connectors, epoxy resin can provide high strength, high stiffness and fatigue resistance to ensure the stability and reliability of the blade. Epoxy resin can also improve the blade’s wind shear resistance and impact resistance, reduce the blade’s vibration noise, and improve the efficiency of wind power generation.

At present, there is also the use of epoxy resin and glass fiber modified curing, is directly applied in the wind power blade materials, can improve the strength and corrosion resistance, etc..

In addition, carbon fiber is also being applied to wind power blade materials, carbon fiber composites have higher strength, lighter weight and better corrosion resistance, so compared with glass fiber, more suitable for the production of large-scale advanced blade. At the same time, carbon fiber composites can improve the service life and reliability of blades due to their better fatigue properties and self-healing properties during use. However, carbon fiber has the disadvantage of high cost and can only be used in areas with increasingly harsh environments, which can reduce the market for glass fiber use.

For other materials for wind turbine blades, such as bio-based nylon 56, nylon 66, polyurethane resins, nanocomposites, bio-based composites, and high-end wood, these materials have also been used in materials for wind turbine blades. These materials have more environmentally friendly properties, as well as adaptability in special environments and so on. And, at present, the industry are actively researching alternative materials for wind turbine blade materials, and the future development trend in the field of blade materials is large-scale, lightweight, and more stringent environmental adaptability and other directions.

In the wind turbine blade materials, epoxy resin applications also need to use curing agents and accelerators and other chemical products, typical products for the polyether amine, used in the matrix epoxy resin curing and structural adhesive, with low viscosity, longer applicable period, anti-aging and other aspects of the excellent overall performance, has been widely used in wind power, textile printing and dyeing, railroad anticorrosive, waterproofing of bridges and ships, petroleum and shale gas mining and other fields, polyether amine downstream As wind power accounted for more than 62%. It should be especially noted that polyether amine belongs to the organic amine epoxy resin curing agent.

In addition, there are other materials are used in the field of wind turbine blade epoxy resin curing agent, such as isoflurane diamine, methyl cyclohexyl diamine, methyl tetrahydrophthalic anhydride, tetrahydrophthalic anhydride, hexahydrophthalic anhydride, methyl hexahydrophthalic anhydride, methyl p-nitroaniline and so on. High-performance products for isophorone diamine and methyl cyclohexyl diamine, with excellent mechanical strength, suitable operating time, low curing exothermic and excellent operation of the infusion process, applied in the wind power blade materials epoxy resin and glass fiber composite materials. Acid anhydride curing agent belongs to the heating curing, more suitable for wind turbine blade beam pultrusion molding process.

(B), the core material composition

Core material is sandwich structure composite material inside, play a role in maintaining the stability of the equipment, reduce the weight and enhance the rigidity of the role of the current use of PVC core material and balsa wood for use. According to Huaan Securities report shows that, due to the PET foam also has the strength of high quality and lightweight features, and the comprehensive performance is better than PVC foam, heat resistance is better than PVC, has the advantages of strong plasticity, easy processing, lower production costs, while easy to recycle, in recent years, PET foam instead of PVC foam to form a trend.

(iii) Other materials for parts

Structural adhesive: epoxy resin adhesive is suitable for most of the material bonding, high strength, good temperature dielectric properties, corrosion resistance and aging resistance, has long been the mainstream of the blade structure adhesive, short-term no alternative materials. Epoxy resin adhesive also need to sky machine and accelerator, also more for polyether amine and anhydride products.

Carbon fiber filament solvent: Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) is the main solvent in the spinning process of carbon fiber filament spinning process, the performance of the filament plays an extremely critical role. Each ton of PAN carbon fiber filament consumption of 0.5-1 tons of dimethyl sulfoxide, with the growth of carbon fiber consumption volume, the consumption of dimethyl sulfoxide will also show a rapid growth trend, and irreplaceable.

Casting resin materials: according to relevant information, grouting resin is mostly furan resin, which is used in the wind power industry in the hub, base, fixed shaft parts (including stator spindle, etc.), gear box parts (including planetary frame, box, etc.), etc., the most widely used in the wind power industry, and has no substitutability. At present, the leading furan resin enterprise in China is Shengquan Group.

Materials for cables: At present, the transmission of wind power generation is sea and land cables, mostly ultra-high voltage transmission cables, mostly XLPE and PVC cable materials, and there is no other product substitution for the time being.

About the wind power industry with related materials and chemicals, are with the wind power industry’s rapid development and drive the consumption of rapid growth, is one of the fastest growth rate of China’s chemical consumption of products, but also choose to invest in the chemical project is an important consideration of the direction and trend.

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