Renewable energies

Material and process innovations for reliable and sustainable energy generation

The generation of renewable energy must increase dramatically in the coming years so that climate protection targets can be achieved despite all efforts in the area of energy efficiency. The use of innovative materials and the improvement of processes will thus play an increasingly important role. These developments will support the expansion of production capacities and help to reduce production costs.


New materials and processes for adhesive bonding, surface technology and functional materials

The backbone of our future energy system will be the generation and distribution of renewable energy. In addition to their integration, distribution and storage, low energy production costs, for example through wind energy, solar energy, bioenergy or geothermal energy, are of great interest to society. 

The topic of renewable energies must be seen as interdisciplinary. Materials and process engineering issues play a major role here and can be used to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve reliability, among other things. The development of new materials and new processes for the topics of adhesive bonding, surface technology, and functional materials is one of the core competencies of Fraunhofer IFAM. The activities of Fraunhofer IFAM in the field of renewable energies are correspondingly diverse. The institute has been supporting industry, in some cases for more than 20 years, in areas including corrosion protection, shaping and functional materials, surface technology, adhesive bonding technology, lightweight construction, electric drives, industrialization and digitization, and 3D printing. 

Examples of the intensive activities in the field of material and process innovations for renewable energies include rotor blade bonding, erosion protection systems, corrosion protection for solar plants and materials for recycling-friendly design.


Innovative technologies and erosion protection systems for wind turbine rotor blades

The bonding of the blade shells is not only important for many rotor blades from a structural-mechanical point of view, but also a very relevant production step. In addition to a fast and demand-oriented application of the adhesive, reliable curing is important for a short cycle time and thus efficient production. In addition to structural mechanical evaluation methods and adhesive evaluation, Fraunhofer IFAM is working on adhesive application and process-integrated quality assurance and digitalization. 

Another innovative technology for sheet production is release films. The PeelPLAS® release film, which can be thermoformed, enables release agent-free production of rotor blade components and rotor blades. In addition, inmold coating can be applied if required. Thus, in rotor blade production, it is possible to reduce mold occupancy time by eliminating work steps, the effort required to activate the surface prior to coating and, if necessary, large parts of the coating effort.

Rotor blades of wind turbines are subjected to enormous erosion stress due to the high circumferential speeds. At the same time, the blade surfaces are attacked by weathering (depending on the location, e.g. UV radiation, humidity, temperature changes, salty spray, but also particle erosion by sand). Fraunhofer IFAM is working on erosion-resistant, weathering-stable, and application-specific systems based on paint or semi-finished products in order to achieve high erosion resistance in service. In addition, test methods are being developed to safeguard the service life of erosion protection coatings. 


Fraunhofer IFAM develops transparent protective coatings for solar systems

In the areas of solar thermal power plants and photovoltaics, protection against aging due to environmental influences also plays a major role. These include, for example, hydrothermal aging and sand erosion, for example caused by sand storms. Fraunhofer IFAM is developing transparent protective coatings which are deposited on the relevant components using plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (CVD). In this way, these sensitive components can be effectively protected and the service life of solar systems increased.   

In addition to these examples, other innovative developments and new technologies could be mentioned, such as the encapsulation of electrical components. The developments at Fraunhofer IFAM are carried out in close cooperation with material suppliers, manufacturers or operators.