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At the Global Windpower Conference and Exhibition, held in Paris 2-5 April, Hexcel Composites will promote its newest developments for wind turbine blade manufacture.
Last year Hexcel commissioned a new $9 million production line for the cost-effective high volume manufacture of fibre-reinforced matrix materials (composites) for the industry. This facility enables Hexcel to supply unidirectional or multiaxial glass or carbon fibre prepregs in a kilo-ton scale as well as high performance resins for infusion processes.
Hexcel has been supplying glass fibre reinforced prepregs to wind turbine blade manufacturers for over 10 years. With manufacturers now turning to carbon for higher performance components, Hexcel is well positioned to benefit from this development. Hexcel’s Salt Lake City, UT plant is a major manufacturer of carbon fibre and the company already supplies over 2000 tons of carbon fibre prepreg annually, from its six prepreg facilities.
Hexcel’s M11 and M11.5 resins are the latest prepreg matrix developments, meeting the requirement for low temperature curing, low exotherm resin formulations that take less time to cure than products currently on the market. HexPly M11 enables multi-ply laminates, combining carbon with glass reinforcements, to be cured and co-cured whilst minimising the stresses caused by the differing coefficients of thermal expansion.
Hexcel Composites launched HexFITTM, its film infusion technology, in 2001. This year Hexcel introduces carbon HexFIT to the product range. HexFIT is supplied as a stack of resin films that are interleaved between layers of dry fibre reinforcements. A special finishing film layer can also be included. HexFIT can be cured using low cost vacuum bag moulding techniques, thereby enabling quality components to be manufactured quickly and cost-effectively. HexFIT is particularly useful for manufacturing thicker composite components, such as wind turbine rotors, as the material is easy to form and produces void free laminates.
The new carbon HexFIT variants have unidirectional carbon fibre reinforcement layers. The smaller diameter filaments of carbon fibre can make it difficult to fully infuse the reinforcement when using wet laminating resins. However, with HexFIT the resin only has to flow a few millimetres to fully wet out the laminate, so there is no risk of dry fibres remaining in the cured component. HexFIT produces carbon fibre laminates with a much lower void content. It also provides improved mechanical properties due to the perfect unidirectional fibre alignment.
HexCoatTM 02 is Hexcel’s new gel coat, developed specifically for wind energy applications. It is a two-part epoxy system, in which both parts are thixotropic, making the gel coat much easier to mix than existing products. HexCoat 02 is highly durable in harsh environments, abrasion resistant and suitable for in-mould use. HexCoat 02 epoxy gel coat outperforms typical polyester gel coats in resistance to yellowing, tensile strength, strain to failure and in taber abrasion tests.
To complement HexCoat 02, Hexcel Composites has developed HexCoat 03, a long-term, weather resistant coating system developed for covering repairs or filler on structures that have an epoxy gel coat. It is solvent-free and UV-resistant and will dry in 60-90 minutes at room temperature. Full curing of HexCoat 03 can be carried out at temperatures as low as 60°C.
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