Irish Company Signs Agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Cyclics to Cooperate in Development of Thermoplastic Composite Wind Turbine Blades

15 October 2004

Gaoth Tec Teo has signed Cooperation Agreements with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Nagasaki, Japan) and with Cyclics Corporation (USA) to develop thermoplastic composite wind turbine blades for large scale wind power installations around the world.

The blades will be made using Cyclics’ CBT resin and a variety of reinforcing additives which will allow improved manufacturing efficiencies and improved workplace safety through the elimination of hazardous epoxy resin components. Using a CBT resin system will provide the opportunity for the world’s first recyclable wind power blade. The ability to re-use the 19 tonnes (42,000 pounds) of wind blade materials per average wind turbine at the end of its useful life is unprecedented in the industry. This development further improves the environmental benefits and sustainability of wind power as a viable energy option. Specific terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

The initial phase of the project will be the development of a series of 12.6 metre (41 foot) wind turbine blades, made from a CBT resin composite, to be designed and manufactured at Gaoth Tec’s manufacturing facility in Galway, Ireland for testing at a Mitsubishi facility in Nagasaki, Japan. The project is partly funded by a grant of €374,000 from Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), and is co-financed by private investment raised with the assistance of Ernst and Young’s Galway office. Gaoth Tec Teo (“Gaoth” is Irish for “wind”) is a sister company of Irish Composites and Composites Testing Laboratory, also located in the Galway area of Ireland. All three companies receive support from the Irish government agency Údarás Na Gaeltachta.

The fundamentals of the processing technologies that will be used in the manufacture of the 12.6 metre blade have been developed within an Advanced Technology Research Programme (ATRP), funded by Enterprise Ireland, at both the University of Limerick and the National University of Ireland Galway. This technology takes full advantage of the water-like processing viscosities of Cyclics’ engineering thermoplastic materials which offers improvements in productivity for large structural composites.

“We are very excited by the collaboration with Cyclics with assistance of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and see enormous potential for thermoplastic composite wind turbine blades in providing cost savings and environmental benefits for the rapidly growing global wind turbine market,” said Dr. Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, Gaoth Tec Joint Managing Director.

“Using Cyclics resin for wind turbine blades brings our key system advantages to bear,” said Roman Eder, Managing Director of Cyclics Europe GmbH. “Faster and safer manufacturing, increased blade performance and recyclable blades and manufacturing scrap are all significant improvements to the way blades are currently made.”

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