Editorial Feature

Using Ceramics in Wind Turbine Technology

Image Credits: Photos.com

Wind turbines are constantly exposed to tough environmental conditions such as dust, moisture, UV radiation, and change in temperatures, which can cause serious corrosion problems.

Researchers at Henkel Corp have discovered a solution to corrosion problems within wind turbines, ceramics. An electroceramic coating called Alodine EC2, introduced in 2007, can be used on all the components of wind turbines to protect against harsh environments.

The electroceramic coating can be applied on most light metals such as aluminum, aluminum alloys, titanium, titanium alloys, aluminized/ aluminum- plated substrates, aluminized ferrous materials, and ion vapor deposition aluminum substrates (IVD).

This coating is not only hard and flexible, but also environmentally friendly. An electroceramic coating can typically provides better corrosion, temperature, chemical, and abrasion resistance for components. It can also replace older coating processes such as electroplating, heavy zinc phosphate, and organic coatings.

By using a “green” coating process for applying the electroceramic coating, components of wind turbines located on onshore and offshore wind farms are well protected. The coating is designed to meet RoHS, WEEE and ELV standards and contains no heavy metals.

The electroceramic coating also provides an aesthetic finish for the components. Overall this coating helps increase the service life of each component.

Changes in the environment can sometimes result in corrosion.

Changes in the environment can sometimes result in corrosion. Image Credits: Photos.com

Some of the advantages of electroceramic coatings are as follows:

  • It is naturally flexible and tough, and can resist chips and flakes.
  • Upon testing with a gravelometer, it was proved that this coating provide better protection than e-coat and paint.
  • The coating finish is a light metallic grey which does not require post-application thermal, chemical, or infrared curing.
  • It provides an exceptional base for paints, sealants, thermal spray coatings, and adhesives.
  • It considerably improves retention of lubricants, oils, and thread lockers.
  • The coating process is less complex than conventional surface treatment processes.
  • As the electroceramic-coating process has fewer steps, it enables speedy processing and reduced processing costs.

Further research is being carried out in the use of ceramics in wind turbines. Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are involved in a  four year, two million dollar project to create ceramic materials to use in a new energy storage process. They hope to use the unique properties of ceramics to increase large-scale wind and solar power generation.

Nanostructured capacitors constructed, using ceramics, can replace batteries for energy storage generated by wind turbines and solar panels. These capacitors possess a high power density and will be capable of faster charge and discharge times to increase operational efficiency.

Morgan Ceramics, an advanced materials company, are working towards using ceramic bearings in wind turbines and ceramic connectors for attaching renewable energy generators to grids. Research suggests that these changes will advance production and generation efficiencies.

With renewable technology becoming more advanced through an extra reliance on alternative energy, it is through innovations like electroceramic coatings that can provide solutions to issues surrounding technology such as wind turbines.

Sources and Further Reading

Kris Walker

Written by

Kris Walker

Kris has a BA(hons) in Media & Performance from the University of Salford. Aside from overseeing the editorial and video teams, Kris can be found in far flung corners of the world capturing the story behind the science on behalf of our clients. Outside of work, Kris is finally seeing a return on 25 years of hurt supporting Manchester City.

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