Wind-energy turbine blades can now be made longer, lighter, and lower in cost without need for expensive, hard-to-get carbon fiber. According to Owens Corning in Toledo, this is due to new technology for glass melting, fiberizing, and sizing that produces a novel family of premium high-performance fibers dubbed HiPer-tex. The first members of this family are WindStrand single-end roving and knitted fabric for wind-turbine blades. These blades are growing longer-from the previous 30 to 40 meters up to 60 meters-necessitating a switch from all E-glass to a hybrid of carbon and glass fibers to control the weight. With WindStrand, Owens Corning says all-glass blades can be made as much as 6% longer than ever before, but at 20% lower cost than a carbon/glass hybrid. That's because WindStrand is reportedly up to 35% stronger and up to 17% stiffer than E-glass and also has greater fatigue, impact, corrosion, and temperature resistance. Therefore less glass is required, keeping the weight similar to a carbon/glass hybrid. WindStrand will be commercially available in November.
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