Technologies like HP-RMT and Wet Compression Molding, borrowed from high-volume industries, may offer exciting insights into meeting the wind power sector’s challenges.
Climate change and supply chain disruption are affecting all markets, producing a significant evolution in the costs of raw materials, which have increased dramatically this year.
Against this backdrop, the wind power industry faces important challenges in making production more efficient and reducing costs. To achieve these goals, industries in this sector will have to rely more and more on the optimal use of automation, research into new technologies, or even the adoption of production methodologies used in other sectors.
HP-RTM (high-pressure resin transfer molding), widely used in the automotive industry to produce lightweight and strong composite components, could be a viable option for manufacturing strong and lightweight wind turbine blade components to withstand stresses and maximize energy production. This technology could provide much faster cycle times, a reduction of consumables, and improve the complete repeatability of the production process.
The same benefits and an overall increase in productivity can be achieved using WCM (Wet Compression Molding) technology, which is also an essential part of the automotive industry. This process can provide advantages, above all, in manufacturing almost-flat parts with fiber-volume fraction around 50-60%.
Opportunity and challenges
For what applications can HP-RTM and WCM make a significant difference in the wind power sector?
The potential uses are many, ranging from root spears to inserts, large composite panels, and parts in the shear web. These might become components with specific characteristics in terms of production volume and geometry, the production speed of which can be significantly increased by using HP-RTM and WCM if designed in a modular way.
Although there are still challenges and limitations to the use of these technologies for wind turbine blades, there is no doubt that they can make a valuable contribution by improving the industry’s production methods, supporting it in its growth, and making wind power an increasingly competitive source of renewable energy.