Dow Chemical Co., Astraeus Wind Energy Inc., and MAG Industrial Automation Systems have announced a wind-energy project funded in part by the state of Michigan. “This joint technology will be built on a solid foundation of MAG’s 30-years in the development of composite processing systems for the manufacture of aircraft components,” said a group spokesman.
The three companies have agreed to develop automated manufacturing equipment focused on improving the manufacture of wind-turbine-blade components, and finished blades, for the wind industry. The need for U.S. energy independence and economic security, coupled with the search for lower impact power sources, is driving demand for clean, alternative energy solutions such as wind energy.
The Michigan Strategic Fund board finalized a Centers of Energy Excellence designation and a $6 million grant for Astraeus to establish operations with an initial focus on the production of spar caps – the “backbone” of a wind turbine blade. The grant will also be used by Dow for material development and optimization, and by MAG for designing, constructing and demonstrating a prototype automated system for manufacturing the spar cap. Designed to help the state diversify into renewable energy technologies, the state funding matches U.S. federal stimulus funds Astraeus previously received.
Dow will use its global skills and experience in advanced-material development and application with the automated manufacturing process and equipment being developed by MAG and Astraeus. The automation will create distinct advantages over the existing manual manufacturing process so wind-turbine-blade manufacturers can increase production rates of higher-quality components with attractive economics.
“Dow is committed to identifying and developing innovative technologies and solutions to improve the viability of alternative energy sources,” said Monty Bayer, global business director, Dow Ventures & Business Development, Licensing and Venture Capital. “This collaboration will create enhanced and innovative solutions that we believe will assist in transforming the growing wind energy industry.” The demand for wind-generated power is growing, driven by a U.S. Department of Energy goal to increase domestic electricity production from wind power by 20% over the next 20 years requiring aggressive turbine volume production. “The state incentive package will let Astraeus accelerate production plans of high quality wind turbine components,” said company President Jeff Metts.
Dow and MAG will focus on advanced materials and automating manufacturing for Astraeus to produce spar caps, with a long-term vision for the technology to be used for the fabrication of other wind turbine components and assembly of those components into finished wind-turbine blades. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory, will assist Dow with evaluation of the advanced materials. Dow and MAG expect to have a material-enabled automation technology solution available in 2012
“This joint technology will be built on a foundation of MAG’s 30-years of leadership in the development of composite processing systems for the manufacture of aircraft components,” said Joe Jones, Executive Vice President of MAG’s Renewable Energy Group. “Combining our high-tech manufacturing system with Dow’s advanced materials will result in a superior manufacturing solution.”
Dow Chemical Co.
Astraeus Wind Energy Inc.
MAG Industrial Automation Systems