The project, Carbon Nanotube Reinforced Polyurethane Composites for Wind Turbine Blades, is funded in part by a US$750 000 grant Bayer MaterialScience LLC received from the US Department of Energy (DOE) in July 2009.

Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Molded Fiber Glass Companies, based in Ashtabula, Ohio, are assisting with the research.

Bayer reports that its polyurethane-based systems reinforced with carbon nanotubes have been proven to create as much as a 50% increase in strength-to-weight ratio.

In addition to providing a stronger composite structure, polyurethane-based systems use bio-based components and can be tailored to eliminate the post-cure step, which can reduce energy costs.

“We’re excited to work with industry and academia to study the viability of applying our polyurethane and other composites reinforced with carbon nanotubes to help the wind energy industry develop stronger, larger and lighter wind turbine blades,” says Mike Gallagher, director, Government Services Group, Bayer MaterialScience LLC. “The wind industry has indicated that development of stronger, lightweight composite technology could lead to as much as a 35% increase in turbine energy output.”

Bayer's carbon nanotubes are marketed under the Baytubes® name.