A super-strong composite material developed at Brigham Young University may allow construction of wind turbine towers up to three times the height attainable with steel towers, and with three times the generating capacity, possibly as much as 5 MW. The next stage will be a project (carried out by Pyramatrix Structures Inc) to construct a 600 foot tower using the new material, with the aid of a $100 000 grant from the US Department of Energy.
The composite, which is the result of seven years research by BYU professor David Jensen, is 91 per cent lighter than steel and 76 per cent lighter than aluminium. Designated ‘Pyramatrix’ it derives its strength from carbon-fibreglass filaments, with the composites weaved into a variety of hollow lattices of reinforcing pyramids. The lighter weight translates into dramatically lower transport and installation costs, with resultant savings in manufacturing, transport and assembly of 50 per cent compared to steel structures.