Renewables are indispensable to climate protection. Wind power, solar power, bioenergy, hydropower and also fuel cell technology: all of these play an essential role in the energy mix of the future.
In what is predominantly still a young field of industry, many applications can only be realized using new materials. A decisive role is played here by high-performance plastics, which are enjoying ever more widespread use.
The systems used to harvest renewable energy sources are undergoing an ongoing process of development. The reliability of these systems has improved decisively, short maintenance intervals are a thing of the past.
The progress made in this field is due in large part to the use of modern materials.
Some of the main plastics used in renewables:
(PTFE) Particularly low coefficient of friction. Exceptional chemical resistance. Inherently flame resistant, self-extinguishing.
(PEEK) High thermal stability. Excellent dimensional stability. High degree of toughness.
(PI) Low outgassing in accordance with ESA standard. High rigidity with low weight.
(POM-C) Dimensionally stable. Grease-resistant. High resilience
(POM-H) High mechanical strength. Very good machining properties
(PA6) (PA6-G) High degree of toughness. Resistance to oils, greases and fuels. Good abrasion resistance.
(PET) Good machining properties. Very low moisture absorption. Very good electrical insulation properties.
The potential offered by wind power is far from being exhausted. The perspectives for further expansion here are highly positive, primarily through repowering – exchanging obsolete equipment for modern, more efficient systems – and utilizing off shore wind power.
Technical developments are highly advanced in this area. However, the drive to improve efficiency and the extreme conditions occurring in off shore wind farms are making ever more stringent demands on the materials used. Depending on the field of application, high-performance materials have to address the following demands:
Main fields of application:
The manufacture of solar plants for the generation of heat or electrical energy is a complex process. The fundamental process involved here is the manufacture of silicon wafers.
There are a whole range of applications relating to this process which rely on high-performance plastics.
These impose a wide range of demands on the materials used:
Predominant fields of application:
The generation of energy from hydropower is a comparatively old and technically matured technology. The kinetic and potential energy inherent in a water current is converted into mechanical rotational energy by means of a turbine wheel. More recent ideas such as tidal and wave power plants are increasingly attracting interest within the industry.
Technical plastics can also make an essential contribution towards efficient, low-maintenance operation, with properties such as:
Predominant fields of application:
Biomass is the most important and most versatile renewable energy source used in Germany.
Renewable raw materials are used in solid, fluid and gaseous form for the generation of electrical power and heat, and also for the manufacture of biofuels. Technical plastics enjoy widespread different uses in this field, in particular where higher temperatures occur and where extreme mechanical or tribological loading capacities are called for.
Fuel cells are developing into an essential cornerstone of future energy generation, largely due to their flexible scope for application, their efficiency and their environmentally friendly credentials. Already today, fuel cells have become an established feature of many applications.
Their performance and efficiency can be increased particularly for mobile applications by reducing their weight. Here, high-performance plastics can play a fundamental role.
Central requirements here include: