Composites Today

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Healable composites technology compatible with Liquid Composites Moulding processes

CompPair has taken the next step in producing the upcoming healable composites technology. The company has developed a system compatible with Liquid Composites Moulding (LCM) processes. In conjunction with other Swiss organizations, they have produced a section of a wind blade turbine using this new system to demonstrate the potential of bringing healing capabilities to LCM processes.

Following the successful market implementation of HealTechTM, CompPair’s first product family, currently sold as prepregs primarily in the sports and space sectors, the development potential of the infusion technology was recognized. The company decided to initiate the project, supported by Innosuisse, and collaborating with EPFL-LPAC, Tissa Textiles AG, and KATZ, experts in composites and polymers.

Specifically tailored to maintain CompPair’s unique selling point, the new system enables composite structures made by infusion to be repaired in a few minutes while maintaining the structure and recovering all mechanical properties following the repair. The company’s new infusion range plans to reach new markets, including the marine and wind energy sectors.

Typical damage events of a wind turbine blade are caused by the environment in which they operate, such as hail, gust, and lightning, but also include fatigue, which both lead to crack propagation and the failure of a composite part.1 These are major causes of downtime and maintenance costs, bringing sustainability and financial issues. This project aimed to produce a large-scale manufacturing demonstrator for the wind energy industry, to demonstrate the value of CompPair’s smart system. The wind blade was manufactured with a mould used by Agile Wind Power to produce their wind turbine blades.

The healing efficiency of composites made with this new process was measured using the flexural modulus as the parameter. Two sets of samples were impacted and one set was healed following the impacts. The flexural modulus of the two sets (damaged and impacted) was compared against virgin CompPair samples. The evaluated healing gave positive results, demonstrating the healed samples recovered 98% of the initial mechanical properties.

CompPair’s smart system is compatible with existing manufacturing, at comparable performances with commercial composites, while allowing in-situ damage repair. These benefits along with improving sustainability are the opportunities CompPair can provide to the composites industry. More specifically, extending the lifetime of composite parts is a key strategy to prevent waste in the industry. Companies can reduce their maintenance costs and drastically reduce their CO2 emissions by reducing composite waste.

CompPair’s healable infusion project for tomorrow’s sustainable composite products is a big milestone for the company. Now, CompPair seeks partners wishing to improve their composite structures made with LCM processes. The future of the Swiss company is to continuously expand its resin systems and processes, globally tackling the composites industry and answering problems of durability and sustainability.

1 Wang, Xue , He and Zhao, (2022). Review of the Typical Damage and Damage-Detection Methods of Large Wind Turbine Blades

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