Archive for May, 2014

Natural Fiber Finds Its Way To Renewable Energy

Friday, May 30th, 2014

The renewable energy market may become a new one for natural fiber.  There has been a recent success story of using flax fiber in creating the turbine blades for wind-turbines.  Specifically a roof-top turbine was created using blades made from natural fiber.

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In February 2014 this story was announced via Composites Evolution‘s website.  From their site: “Biotex Flax has been used to manufacture natural fibre reinforced blades for a rooftop wind turbine at the University of Stuttgart.

The blades were conceived, designed and manufactured by the SWE (Endowed Chair of Wind Energy) at the University, the team having found that Biotex Flax reinforcement’s unique twistless technology gave them the performance characteristics that they were looking for.

SWE’s research is focused on improving the reliability of turbines whilst reducing the production costs of wind energy. It started design in 2011, with the aim of constructing new rotor blades for the university’s 1kW rooftop wind turbine. After a trip to “The Eden Project” in the UK, the team wanted to familiarise themselves with natural fibres and contacted Composites Evolution to test the performance of its Biotex materials.”

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Along with a range of other materials, the fibres were tested with different resins to validate their performance characteristics. SWE found that Composites Evolution’s Biotex Flax correlated best with the performance they expected and it felt they had a good data basis to make a lightweight and stiff natural fibre blade.

The blade, consisting of Biotex Flax 2×2 twill 400gsm as the main shell and Biotex Flax unidirectional 275gsm used for the blade’s belt and root, was built in two halves. Both were hand-laminated and then vacuum-bagged in two female moulds. The two separate halves were then joined using Momentive’s RIM 235 epoxy resin.

Once completed the blades were assembled onto the rooftop turbine for performance tests. SWE plans to use the blades in further tests focusing on their strength performance compared to blades constructed from other materials. A fourth blade was embedded with strain gauges and the team will be comparing the results to standard carbon and glass blades.”


Industrial Hemp Fiber Processing to Increase in North America

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Canadian farmers harvested a record breaking tonnage of industrial hemp last year.  Every day more states in the US are passing farm bills that legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp.  This is exciting news for FlexForm Technologies, but we cannot use raw fiber straight from the field.  If we are going to take advantage of native fiber, we need processing facilities to be built and start processing the fiber into a usable form for our machinary.

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Canadian farmer harvesting industrial hemp

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A recent post on the blog of Alberta Innovates: Technology Futures entitled “Hemp Processing Plants Planned For Alberta” has identified two possible hemp processing plants being planned for construction in the next few years.  The websites The Western Producer and Leaf Science both report the same information.  This is welcome news.  Alberta is a great spot for processing plants to be established, as it is already legal to grow the industrial hemp there.  Also, Alberta Innovates: Technology Futures provides scientific and development expertise to assist the processing companies to be successful.

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Dr. Jan Slaski and Dr. John Wolodko of Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures conduct research on hemp fibre products at an Edmonton lab. (Photo: AITF)

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Apparently Cylab International and Stemia are both planning to build facilities costing an estimated $32 million dollars a piece.  From the post by Western Producer:

“Cylab International plans to move its operations from China to an undetermined location in southern Alberta.
 “It’s definitely going ahead,” said Cylab chief executive officer Brett Boag Jan. 17.
 “We are still determining the place. ” …”

” 
The other plant likely to build in Alberta is called Stemia, which has identified a site near Chin, as the location for a flax and hemp straw decortication plant…”

“Mike Duckett of Stemia said its proposed $32 million plant is probable but not yet confirmed, and he expects to know more in two to three months.
..”

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Mike Duckett of Stemia

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