Fast Forward: Cutting-Edge TechnologiesBuilding a Better Blade to Capture the Wind

Interest in harnessing the wind as a renewable and sustainable energy source has grown around the world. Wind turbines are increasingly visible in many countries. In the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association, in 2008, wind power installations supplied 7,500 megawatts, enough to generate electricity for 2.2 million homes.

The Association notes that most rotor blades available today are made of glass- or carbon-fiber reinforced plastics, similar to airplane propellers. Richard Steinke, president and CEO of Wind Sail Receptor Inc., says blades made of plastic materials are susceptible to cracking and drooping after prolonged exposure to the elements. Further, design of airplane propellers does not offer the best use of the blade surface, he claims.

His company has designed rotor blades that use Bayer MaterialScience's polyurethane to increase durability and weatherability while reducing blade weight and maintenance needs.

The Wind Sail Receptor quad blade construction improves the ability to capture wind, according to the company. The blades can generate power in winds of only five miles per hour, and continue to generate in winds as strong as 50 miles per hour.

Steinke estimates standard rotor blades for a one-megawatt turbine weigh almost four tons and measure 100 feet. By contrast, Wind Sail Receptor blades weigh half a ton and measure 50 feet.

“I've always used Bayer MaterialScience raw materials in my formulations because they have the highest quality controls. The quality is always right,” claims Steinke. “The blades are the most important part, and with the high quality of Bayer MaterialScience materials, they will surely stand the test of time.”

Steinke feels he'll have a product ready this year, one that might be distributed through utility companies, possibly by a joint venture. The company's Web site is at www.windsailreceptor.com.

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