Over one million tons of composites are used every year to manufacture wind-turbine blades. However, these blades made of thermoset composites (epoxy or polyester) are not easy to recycle at their end of life stage.
To meet this challenge, Arkema has developed Elium, the first liquid thermoplastic resin using the same infusion process and equipment as thermoset composites.
Wind-turbine blades made from Elium have the advantage of being recyclable, thermoformable and thermoweldable, which helps to limit the use of epoxy glues.
Arkema’s Elium resin allows the manufacture of thermoplastic composite parts, which can replace metal. The resulting parts feature identical mechanical properties to thermoset parts and are 50% lighter than steel.
“We have indeed demonstrated the industrial viability of the project. Elium is currently the only thermoplastic that can accommodate the conventional tools and processes used to manufacture turbine blades,” said Michel Glotin, Materials Scientific Director at Arkema.
A first nine-meter wind turbine blade has been manufactured from the Elium thermoplastic resin in the United States, jointly with IACMI (Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation). Initial tests carried out by Arkema have shown that a component made from the Elium composite features a resistance to fatigue 10 times greater than components made from thermoset composites.
Another decisive milestone will be reached with the upcoming manufacture of a 25-meter turbine blade, as well as the installation and commissioning later this year of a turbine fitted with Elium.
The JEC World 2017 tradeshow, held in Paris – Villepinte from March 14 to 16, will showcase Arkema’s latest composites innovations.