To withstand gales and storms, wind turbines need to be robust. This is why polymer resins are often used to coat the blades. The challenge, however, is that the manufacturing of these resins is carbon intensive.
We were commissioned by a client to help them decarbonise the manufacturing process for their wind turbine blades, which relied on the use of polymer resins.
These resins were a practical choice, effective when manufacturing components that must be strong and lightweight. However, the polymer resins used to make these blades were usually derived from petrochemical-based feedstocks, or materials produced by refining fossil fuels, a process which generates significant amounts of CO₂. In addition, many types of petrochemical-based resins used during the manufacturing process pose health hazards to workers, and generate hazardous waste materials that must be disposed of safely. Making these materials more sustainable across their complete lifecycle, including increasing the recyclability of the product at the end of its life, was a major goal for our client.
Accordingly, we were tasked to identify solutions that would allow them to continue using their reliable, resin-based process for manufacturing turbine blades, while substituting innovative, more sustainable resin materials.
Working with our client, we gained a deeper understanding of their specific challenges, and identified the environmental and technical requirements that any alternative sustainable resin materials would have to meet. We then selected five leading experts in bioresins from academia and industry to work with our consulting team. Our team searched the globe to identify groups at universities and research institutes that were working on high-performance bio-based resins, shortlisting any developing materials that could meet our client’s needs.
After identifying more than 20 of the most promising bioresins under development, our team critically evaluated each potential material. Our analysis investigated the sustainability of each compound, and considered whether it could meet the demanding technical requirements of our client’s specific application.
This allowed our client to effectively evaluate the trade-offs between different types of bioresins and decide on their final strategy for acquiring and further developing specific bioresin technologies.
Our team produced an in-depth report with straightforward and comprehensive evaluation of each bioresin’s characteristics. This allowed our client to effectively evaluate the trade-offs between different bioresins and decide on their final strategy for acquiring and further developing specific bioresin technologies. We also identified more than 30 researchers working on the bioresin technologies that we evaluated as most suitable for their specific application. As a result, our client was prepared to pursue partnerships to achieve their goals.