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AkzoNobel speeds up innovation with world-first testing facility for wind turbine blades

AkzoNobel recently inaugurated the world's first purpose-built wind turbine blade testing facility at its UK Felling site, which will bolster the growth of AkzoNobel's International protective coatings brand, a key supplier for wind farms worldwide.

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The world’s first purpose-built wind turbine blade testing facility – which is capable of running simulations at half the speed of sound – has been opened by AkzoNobel at its Felling plant in the United Kingdom. 

The multi-million euro investment will support the development of the company’s International protective coatings brand, which supplies wind farms around the globe. 

Researchers at the new facility – which can simulate harsh weather conditions from around the world – will be able to triple the number of rain erosion tests that can be run every week. At full speed, the so-called “helicopter” test is capable of running at 176 meters per second.

“Today marks an exciting new chapter in our long history of supporting sustainable innovation and product development,” says Ralph Slikkerveer, R&D Director of AkzoNobel’s Marine and Protective Coatings business. 

“Bringing this type of world class testing in-house – where we can immediately generate the data, analyze results and prolong testing periods – will transform our contribution to innovation in the wind energy sector. As one of the market leaders, we’ll be able to participate in a more meaningful way in lifetime prediction discussions on protective coating systems for wind turbine blades.” 

To support the ultra-high speed tests, the new facility has been fitted with a 1,000-liter water recycling tank. During testing, the water flow rates – and both the water and air temperatures – can be adjusted as required. 

“The protective coatings we’ll be testing will help to future-proof our customers’ blades so they can withstand the most extreme weather conditions,” adds Slikkerveer. “We’ll now be able to perform more cost-effective and accelerated testing on new products, offering the best possible solutions for our customers at a time when global investment in wind projects continues to grow.  

“It’s further proof that AkzoNobel is setting industry standards through sustainability-driven innovation by continuing to expand its game-changing portfolio of products and technologies.” 

The Felling site has been manufacturing international products since 1904 and is firmly established as the brand’s global hub for research and development.

AkzoNobel is currently the only global paints and coatings company that can supply complete solutions for wind turbines, from the tip of the blade to the foundations – with more than 80,000 wind energy installations having been coated worldwide.

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