CompositesManufacturing The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association Summer 2023 Building Landmark Bridges Wind Blade Recycling Thermoplastic Composites
RESULTS for you at CAMX’23! Watch LIVE demos of innovative closed mold processes. Listen as dependable experts present advanced solutions. And learn how you can attain real-world results. It’s the Composites One and the Closed Mold Alliance Demo Zone – LIVE – at Booth W18 during CAMX 2023 in Atlanta, GA, October 30 - November 2. Innovative. Dependable. Results. Composites One • Aerovac • MVP • RTM North Technologies Presented LIVE by Composites One, the Closed Mold Alliance and our industry partners. CompositesManufacturing The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association LEARN + = + LISTEN WATCH
CompositesManufacturing The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association About the Cover: A new pedestrian bridge in Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor connects several tourist destinations, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center. The drawbridge provides boaters access to the harbor, too. Creative Composites Group manufactured two 51 x 113.67-foot panels for the GFRP bridge deck. Photo Courtesy of Creative Composites Group Summer 2023 Features 6 15 27 Momentum in the Hydrogen Energy Market...15 The alignment of decarbonization efforts, vehicle electrification, improved technologies, government mandates and societal forces is propelling the green hydrogen industry forward. By Susan Keen Flynn A Second Life for Wind Blades.......................21 Researchers from the composites industry, universities and government labs are collaborating on recycling projects to solve the end-of-life wind blade problem and find new uses for reclaimed materials. By Mary Lou Jay Opportunities in Thermoplastic Pultrusion.....27 Thermoset matrices have long been the material of choice for pultrusion, but researchers are working to provide thermoplastic solutions as well. By Mary Lou Jay A Change Leader............................................31 Megan Multanen, who began a two-year term as chair of ACMA’s Board of Directors in July, shares her career path, thoughts on the composites industry and vision for the association. By Susan Keen Flynn Market Segment Infrastructure.............................................. 6 Pedestrian Bridges Sports & Recreation................................. 10 Kayak Paddles Departments & Columns From the ACMA Chair.............................. 2 Focus on Sustainability..............................3 Legislative & Regulatory.......................... 34 Inside ACMA............................................ 36 Ad Index.................................................... 36 Photo Credit: © Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT Photo Credit: Voith Group Photo Credit: Jay Harris, Creative Composites Group Photo Credit: Werner Paddles
CompositesManufacturing 2 I started my two-year tenure as chair of ACMA’s board of directors on July 1, and I am excited to lead the association and work with our exceptional board. We are committed to understanding ACMA’s member companies and providing value to membership. As co-CEO of a second-generation family business, I know the importance of making the most of time and resources. That’s one of the main reasons my company, Bestbath, has been a member of ACMA and its predecessors for more than 50 years. We rely on the rich programming, publications and events offered by ACMA, as well as its advocacy on behalf of our industry, and we tap into the expertise of other members. That allows us to focus on what we do best – manufacture high-quality, custom bath systems. The board of directors is committed to finding new ways to enhance the value of membership and be vocal about that value, which in turn will allow you to make decisions that are right for your business – whether it’s a large, multinational supplier or a small, mom-and-pop shop. If you want to know more about me or my vision for ACMA, check out the article on page 31. I also invite you to join me at CAMX 2023 in Atlanta, Oct. 30 – Nov. 2. We have a full slate of programming that you can learn about at thecamx.org. One of the highlights will be the general session keynote address by former NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham, who in 2006 became the third Black woman to travel into space. She’s had a storied career, including serving as director of open innovation at Collins Aerospace. Higginbotham’s message should inspire all of us to innovate. And the only way you will be successful in this industry is through innovation. That may come in different forms, whether through offering novel products or entering new markets. This issue of Composites Manufacturing magazine highlights two potential areas of opportunity. There’s an article on hydrogen energy (page 15) that may pique your interest in the market, which is forecast to hit $140 billion in total revenue by 2030. If you’re interested in new materials and processing technologies, turn to page 27 to learn about research projects in pultruded thermoplastic composites. This is a pivotal time for the composites industry. I encourage you to not just join ACMA, but to get involved in committees, projects and initiatives. There’s room for everyone at the table. We want to hear your voice and make ACMA invaluable. Sincerely, Megan Multanen ACMA Chairman of the Board firstname.lastname@example.org From the ACMA Chair Composites Manufacturing Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association Publisher Cindy Squires email@example.com Editorial Managing Editor Susan Keen Flynn firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Design & Production Innovative Association Solutions, LLC email@example.com ias-online.net Advertising Sales Sr. Manager, Business Development John Catapano firstname.lastname@example.org All reprint requests should be directed to email@example.com Volume 39 | Number 3 | Summer 2023 American Composites Manufacturers Association 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250 Arlington, VA 22201 Phone: 703-525-0511 Fax: 703-525-0743 firstname.lastname@example.org www.acmanet.org Composites Manufacturing (ISSN 1084-841X) is published quarterly by the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), ACMA Headquarters, 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250, Arlington, VA 22201 USA. Subscription rates: Free for members and non-members in the U.S., Canada and Mexico; $55 for international non-members. A free online subscription is available at cmmagazineonline. org. Periodical postage paid at Arlington, VA and additional mail offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Composites Manufacturing, ACMA Headquarters, 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250, Arlington, VA 22201. The magazine is mailed to ACMA members and is also available by subscription. Canada Agreement number: PM40063731 Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: Station A, PO Box 54, Windsor, ON N9A 6J5, Email: email@example.com. Copyright© 2023 by ACMA. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted without permission from the publisher. ACMA, a nonprofit organization representing the composites industry worldwide, publishes Composites Manufacturing, circulation 9,000, as a service to its members and other subscribers. Opinions or statements of authors and advertisers appearing in Composites Manufacturing are their own and don’t necessarily represent that of ACMA, its Board of Directors or its staff. Information is considered accurate at the time of publication, however accuracy is not warranted. Hearing Your Voice and Bringing Value to ACMA
www.acmanet.org 3 For more than a year, ACMA’s Climate Impact Project (CIP) has been helping composites manufacturers prepare estimates of the cradle-to-gate emission of climate warming gases associated with the production of their products. Cradleto-gate includes the extraction of materials from nature, production and transportation of intermediates, and manufacture of the product for which the climate impacts are estimated. The CIP recently prepared lifecycle assessments (LCA) for vinyl ester and polyurethane resins, and on the manufacture of products using the pultrusion process. Together with our previously existing information on unsaturated polyester resin and glass fiber, and on products made using the open molding, open mold casting, compression molding and vacuum infusion processes, these data will help both the industry and individual composites manufacturers evaluate composite products’ climate impacts. Under the CIP we are also developing product category rules (PCR) that will guide the translation of LCA data into the environmental product declarations (EPD) required for infrastructure and construction products. During the next year, we expect to update our 2012 LCA data for unsaturated polyester resins and glass fiber, and ACMA will launch programs that will help composites manufacturers prepare the LCA and EPDs requested by their customers. But estimating cradleto-gate climate impacts is not the last step. Once a company can provide reliable estimates of the environmental impacts associated with the manufacture of its products, customers will start asking for reductions in those impacts. Ford and other automotive OEMs, for example, have pledged to meet climate goals that will require reductions in supply chain climate impacts. Biden administration policy strongly favors the use of “low carbon” products and materials for federally funded infrastructure projects like highways, GSA-administered buildings, and municipal water and wastewater treatment systems. Programs recently adopted by the European Union and under consideration by the California legislature will require larger companies to report and reduce climate impacts, including from their supply chains. A principle behind these requirements is that once a company is required to report impacts it will be motivated to reduce them. Small companies supplying to the larger firms required to report under these programs will likely find the regulatory requirements are passed along to them by their large company customers. How can a composites manufacturer “decarbonize” – that is, reduce its cradleto-gate climate impacts? ACMA’s industry average LCA for products made using open molding, pultrusion and other processes can be used to identify good starting points. Figure 1 provides estimates of the relative climate impacts associated with major raw materials and process energy. Not surprisingly, the relative climate impacts of process inputs will vary with different molding processes. For a manufacturer of open molding products, for example, the emission of climate warming gases associated with the manufacture of resin (including the resin manufacturing supply chain back to extraction of materials from nature) is relatively greater than other process 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 Process Energy Incoming Transport Other Materials E-Glass Resin Pultruded Open Molded Compression Molded Vacuum Infused CO2e Emission Per Input* Decarbonization in Composites Manufacturing By John Schweitzer Focus on Sustainability Figure 1: Sources of Climate Impacts Associated with Composites Manufacturing Processes * CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent, describes different greenhouse gases in a common unit. Note: The figures represent averages across several companies that volunteered to provide data and may not be representative of every operation using each of the process types.
CompositesManufacturing 4 inputs, while for compression molded products the process energy has the largest relative impact. Making polymers from fossil fuels is associated with the emission of large quantities of climate warming gases, both because of the chemistries involved and the high temperatures required at several steps. Suppliers of resins for composites offer materials made with chemical intermediates derived from recycled packaging or from soybeans or other plants, and these technologies reduce the amount of the intermediates derived from fossil fuel and the climate impacts associated with that process. Use of these resins will reduce the cradle-togate climate impacts of making composite products. Making glass fiber is also energy intensive, and glass fiber can be the primary driver of climate impact for products with high reinforcement loading, such as many pultruded products. Glass fiber suppliers are working to recover fiber from end-of-life composite products and reinsert this material into the fiber making process, which will provide reductions in the climate impacts associated with glass fiber. Recycling companies are also working to recover useful material from glass fiber reinforced plant scrap, and researchers and some composites manufacturers are investigating the use of natural fiber, like that derived from hemp, as reinforcement in composites. Carbon fiber production is also associated with the emission of significant quantities of climate warming gases. Several recycling companies offer technologies for recovering carbon fiber from end-of-life composite and plant scrap and processing it for use as a replacement for virgin fiber to make new composite products. This practice has the potential for significant reductions in the climate impacts associated with carbon fiber reinforced composites. When considering the use of recycled material to replace virgin material, the emission of climate warming gases associated with the collection, transportation and processing of scrap or end-of-life material to prepare usable recyclate must be considered. Collection and transportation are major challenges to establishing a reliable supply chain for recycled composite material. Manufacturers may find that the reduction of climate impacts associated with generation of process energy is an attractive approach to decarbonization, as this will typically not involve process or raw material changes. Many manufacturers buy electricity generated using renewable sources such as wind or solar, although this usually comes at a higher cost. Some companies install solar panels and use the energy generated directly or sell it to their electric utility. It’s not too soon for composites manufacturers to start planning for decarbonization. Especially critical at early stages will be bringing suppliers and customers into your planning process. John Schweitzer is vice president of EH&S and sustainability at ACMA. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your Performance – Made by Roth Your partner for high quality machinery > High level automation > More process and material efficiency > Low maintenance, longevity and durability > Tailormade solutions e.g. for aerospace industry, automotive industry and future mobility industry Roth Composite Machinery GmbH Filament Winding & Prepreg Machinery • Bauhofstr. 2 • 35239 Steffenberg • Germany • Phone +49 (0)6464/9150-0 Roth USA • Joe Jansen • email@example.com www.roth-composite-machinery.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
CompositesManufacturing 6 Infrastructure Photo Credit: Jay Harris, Creative Composites Group Two iconic Ohio landmarks – Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor and Kelleys Island’s Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve – recently installed pedestrian bridges featuring GFRP decks. The North Coast Harbor is situated amid multiple local attractions, with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to the south, the Great Lakes Science Center to the west and Voinovich Bicentennial Park to the east. The new bridge spans the harbor, allowing visitors to easily cross between attractions. It’s also a working drawbridge to provide boats access to the harbor’s marina. Scott Reeve, director of business development for Creative Composites Group (CCG), the deck’s manufacturer, says that at 10 pounds per square foot, composite materials are an obvious choice for moving bridges. “FRP decking makes a lot of sense because it is so lightweight,” he says. “The heavier the structure, the larger and more complicated the machinery is [to move it] and more expensive. That’s why FRP is a great solution.” The deck was constructed with two 51 x 13.67-foot panels with interlocking ends that overlap to create a smooth path when the bridge is down. The panels were laid up by hand with a single layer of unidirectional and triaxial (+/-45o/90o) glass fiber fabric on either side of a fiber-reinforced foam core, then vacuum infused with a vinyl ester resin. Once cured, the panels were finished with a non-skid surface from Matacryl. The panels include a slight cross slope for water drainage and 6-inch deep, 14-foot-long curved drains covered with GFRP grating post-production. Forty stainless steel bolt receptors were embedded in each panel to affix it to the bridge’s steel girders and railings. “Typically, we might have considered breaking this [deck] into four pieces. But since it was a movable bridge, we liked having fewer joints,” says Reeve. “In any structure – whether it is steel or concrete or FRP – if a problem is going to happen, it is more likely to happen at the joints.” The second bridge is 85 miles west of North Coast Harbor on Kelleys Island, the largest U.S. island in Lake Erie and home to one of the world’s largest exposed glacial grooves sites, the Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve. Commissioned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the pedestrian bridge replaces an ailing steel walkway that was installed decades ago to protect the grooves from foot traffic. The GFRP bridge resembles an inverted “v” to give the preserve’s estimated 100,000 annual visitors good views of the 400-foot-long, 30-foot-wide grooves that the icy glacier scoured into limestone 18,000 years ago. Coastline Composites, a consulting firm that assisted ODNR with the project, A Tale of Two Bridges Made from 54 pultruded GFRP deck profiles, a pedestrian bridge on Kelleys Island in Lake Erie allows visitors a close-up view of the 400-foot-long, 30-foot wide, 10-foot deep Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve.
www.acmanet.org 7 initially recommended large, molded FRP panels. However, after considering the challenges of delivering large parts to a wooded site on an island accessible only by boat or plane, the company chose CCG’s smaller prefabricated planks instead. “We weren’t going to get huge panels delivered out to Kelleys Island easily,” says Gregg Blaszak, P.E., president of Coastline Composites. Another benefit of the smaller planks was that the contractor could cut them in the field to fit the unusual geometry of the bridge. The deck was built with 54 H-5 SuperDeck® Lite GFRP profiles from CCG measuring 1 foot wide and between 13 and 16.5 feet long. They were pultruded in a single day using continuous roving, a continuous filament mat and a polyester resin and were finished with a Matacryl non-skid surface. The engineered fabrics provide the shear strength needed to meet LRFD Guide Specifications for Design of Pedestrian Bridges and accommodate H-5 maintenance vehicles (10,000 pounds). The general contractor, The Ruhlin Company, assembled the deck onsite. The construction team fastened the undersides of the composite profiles to the bridge’s steel structure using CCG’s stainless steel clamping system, which eliminates the need for drill holes and fasteners on the deck and creates a smooth, aesthetically pleasing surface. Both bridges have an expected lifespan of 75 years. “We’ve had complaints that people have used high-end, treated lumber decks and they failed within 10 years,” says Reeve. “People want sustainability. They want to be able to put it in and forget about it.” GFRP bridge decks are designed to deliver. Melissa O’Leary is a freelance writer in Cleveland and a frequent visitor to North Coast Harbor and Kelleys Island. Email comments to email@example.com. Photo Credit: Creative Composites Group The North Coast Harbor pedestrian bridge showcases the benefits of lightweight GFRP decks, as well as their aesthetic appeal Supplying Marine, Transportation, Wind & Aerospace Markets with Fiberglass & Composite Core Kits. The Mahogany Company is the leader in the Composite Kit Industry See us at Booth V-61 The Mahogany Company has been family owned & operated for over 75 years. CM CAMX.indd 1 7/18/2023 12:24:59 AM
Conference: Oct 30 - Nov 2, 2023 Exhibition: Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2023 Atlanta, GA, USA CAMX, the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo is where business and innovation meet in one encompassing event. CAMX brings together business leaders and decision-makers with scientists, engineers, technicians, manufacturers and suppliers to shape the future of the composites and advanced materials industry. WHAT TO EXPECT 500+ manufacturers and suppliers 100+ educational sessions 65 product categories CUTTING-EDGE technology & innovations NEW commercial & industrial applications KEY developments & trends LIVE manufacturing demonstrations NETWORKING & exchanging ideas theCAMX.org/why-attend GAIN NEW INSIGHTS AND FRESH PERSPECTIVES MEET GENERAL SESSION KEYNOTER, JOAN HIGGINBOTHAM The General Session keynote presenter will be Joan Higginbotham, former NASA astronaut, director of open innovation at Collins Aerospace, and president of Joan Higginbotham Ad Astra, LLC. A retired NASA astronaut, Joan Higginbotham is an electrical engineer who in 2006, flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery to become the third African American woman to travel into space. GOOD DAY, CAMX! PANEL DISCUSSION Every year, CAMX puts together a panel of industry leaders to discuss current projects within the industry that are pushing boundaries and leading the way with new processes and technologies. You can hear how the latest innovations are changing the market and what that means for your business.
WORLD-CLASS EDUCATION CAMX hosts a robust education program for the composites and advanced materials industry by providing an exciting offering of sessions with industry experts in a variety of educational settings. 2023 CONFERENCE TRACKS INCLUDE: • Additive Manufacturing • Advances in Materials • Bonding and Joining • Business, Regulatory, and Workforce Development • Design, Analysis, and Simulation • Green and Sustainability • Manufacturing & Processing Technologies • Market Applications • Non-Destructive Evaluation & Testing Featured Sessions cover the industry’s hottest topics for continued growth. Pre-Conference Tutorials get immersive with a three-hour skill-improvement format covering a single composites and advanced materials processing related topic. Great for young professionals, anyone new to the industry, or even seasoned individuals seeking specialized education. Education Sessions include 55-minute presentations focused on case studies, best practices, and more. Technical Papers present formal written research papers addressing critical areas from business, applications, and research perspectives. THE CAMX EXHIBIT HALL: A PLACE LIKE NO OTHER With hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers on display, CAMX is a unique experience that makes it easy to explore solutions in-person that you might not be able to discover otherwise. The exhibit hall is filled with opportunities to meet new suppliers and to find the best innovations to support your production requirements. Watch live process demos, see composite materials first-hand, and engage with interactive displays on how the future is forming. The CAMX Theater and CAMX Park Place located on the showfloor feature gathering spaces to learn, network and connect with industry experts. theCAMX.org/conference-program theCAMX.org/registration FOR THE BEST RATES MAKE YOUR TRAVEL PLANS NOW Lock in your travel savings now. Visit theCAMX.org/travel for airline discounts and details. HOTEL RESERVATIONS Book through the official CAMX Housing Bureau, Conference Direct for discounted hotels. Reserve your room by October 11 for the best rate. theCAMX.org/hotels 5OO+ EXHIBITING COMPANIES 65 PRODUCT CATEGORIES
CompositesManufacturing 10 Sports & Recreation More than 300 of the world’s best kayakers will travel this fall to RushSouth Whitewater Park in Columbus, Ga., to compete in the 2023 ICF Kayak Freestyle World Championship. Approximately 70% of them will use composite paddles manufactured in Monroe, Wash., by Werner Paddles. The paddles also have a local connection; Vectorply, based across the Chattahoochee River in Phoenix City, Ala., supplies composite reinforcement fabrics for them. “The ICF event is five minutes down the road from us on the Chattahoochee River,” says Scott Phillips, Vectorply marketing manager. “It’s the first time in several years it’s been back in the United States and the first time they’ve done it on an urban course through a city.” Vectorply is a long-time supplier for Werner, which has been manufacturing a wide variety of canoe and kayak paddles for 65 years. Its products include lightweight touring paddles for flat water conditions, freestyle paddles designed to support kayakers’ loops, spins, cartwheels and other maneuvers, and downriver racing paddles that feature a large surface area for maximum power transfer. Werner builds the blades and the shafts of its paddles with either glass fiber or carbon fiber. CFRP paddles are more lightweight, reducing stress on the athlete’s body. GFRP paddles are heavier but have better impact resistance. “We have years of design and engineering to understand how the materials work, where they work and which materials work best for each paddle,” says Taylor Robertson, sales and marketing manager at Werner Paddles. The company draws upon this knowledge as it develops new designs that improve the performance and safety of its existing paddle designs and/or satisfy kayakers’ desire for new colors and styles. During this process, it works with suppliers like Vectorply to determine the composite materials best suited for each design. Before they’re introduced into the market, all of Werner’s paddle designs go through extensive testing for durability, wear and tear, strength and load capacity. (Robertson, a former competitive kayak freestyler, sometimes participates in these in-water tests.) Vectorply primarily supplies glass fiber fabrics to Werner, although it has provided some carbon/glass fiber blends as well. “We make non-crimp fabrics (NCF), which have different plies of unidirectional glass fibers set on top of each other at different orientations and then stitched and bonded together with a polyester yarn,” says Trevor Gundberg, the company’s vice president of composite engineering. For Werner, Vectorply usually makes a warp triaxial fabric with a stacking sequence of 0˚, +45˚ and -45˚ plies. The off-axis reinforcements stiffen and strengthen the bonds, which gives the material a higher twisting resistance and enables Werner to fine tune the paddle. Werner uses hand layup, a compression molding system and a proprietary resin to manufacture its blades and shafts, employing a mandrel for shaft production. The blades and shafts are produced separately, then epoxied together so that Werner can offer kayakers paddles with different shaft and blade combinations. Some customers, such as REI, request Paddling to the Top A kayaker takes on the white water with a paddle manufactured by Werner Paddles. Photo Credit: Werner Paddles
www.acmanet.org 11 special graphics for the blades, which Werner adds with a proprietary process during molding. The company achieves the smooth, shiny surface of its paddles by keeping its molds smooth and highly polished, Robertson says. The material that Vectorply supplies is also important to this finished look. Although Vectorply has an inventory of more than 350 different material combinations, it makes a custom fabric for Werner. The challenge for Vectorply is to make a fabric that meets Werner’s quality requirements, which are very high from an aesthetic point of view. Vectorply keeps visible gaps in its materials to a minimum by using smaller sizes of glass roving, but that increases the cost per pound of the material as well as the time it takes to set up production. “We have found a way to use the most cost-efficient roving sizes, which helps with our costs and with our pricing to Werner,” Gundberg adds. “Our process starts with the best materials. Without these we would not be able to deliver our high-quality products to our customers,” says Robertson. “Vectorply has been a wonderful partner for many years, and they are a key component to our success.” Werner, which sells its products worldwide, produces between 200 to 400 paddles a day, depending on the type of paddles being manufactured. “It’s really difficult to build a whitewater kayak paddle and replicate it at high volume; it is the epitome of hand crafting,” Robertson says. “Each of our paddles is touched by 20 different sets of hands before it ends up in the rack. There are layup processes, a lot of finishing processes, sanding, and we have a really detailed quality control process. We just don’t want to let anything out of here that has a defect.” Vectorply will have a booth at the Kayak Freestyle World Championships, where it will display Werner paddles and swatches of its composite materials. Vectorply’s staff will also have the opportunity to watch current champion Dane Jackson – who uses a Werner paddle – defend his title. They will also see firsthand how well the paddles and the composite materials stand up to the challenges of this demanding competition. Mary Lou Jay is a freelance writer based in Timonium, Md. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo Credit: Werner Paddles Werner Paddles employs hand layup, compression molding and multiple finishing processes to produce kayak and canoe paddles. Unlimited Applications Unmatched Performance Is it possible to increase strength and stiffness while reducing weight and cost? With Vectorply composite reinforcement fabrics it is! Our wide range of fiberglass, carbon and aramid fabrics, combined with industryleading technical services and support can take your product higher, farther, and faster with less weight and labor. Giving your product the competitive edge is our business. Learn more at vectorply.com. 1-800-577-4521 | www.vectorply.com
CompositesManufacturing 12 ADVERTORIAL Thermoplastic composites are gaining attention as the aerospace industry increasingly uses them to replace various metallic and thermoset composite parts. Thanks to their higher impact resistance, unique processing possibilities, lightweight properties, strength and environmental advantages, thermoplastic composites significantly improve high-rate composite manufacturing and enable more optimized aircraft structures to achieve fuel burn efficiency. Collins Aerospace is actively developing these advanced materials and tailored processes to accelerate the industry’s transformation toward more sustainable aviation and support the defense sector in developing higher performing and more robust solutions. How thermoplastics differ from traditional composites Unlike traditional thermoset carbon epoxy composites – which require lengthy and costly manufacturing methods typically involving autoclave cures – thermoplastics are produced without autoclaves (outof-autoclave) and can be manufactured with a variety of methods such as stamp forming that allow them to be shaped in just a few minutes. Whereas the forming of thermoset composites is based on solidification through chemical reactions, thermoplastics are formed through physical principles based on remelting and reshaping as no chemical reactions are needed during those processes. “As an example, think of a thermoset as an egg – when it’s created it goes from a liquid to a solid and once set as a solid cannot be reversed. On the other hand, you might think of a thermoplastic as chocolate – it is meltable, can be solidified, and remolded many times,” said Stephane Dion, vice president of Engineering & Technology for Advanced Structures at Collins Aerospace. “You can’t remelt and fuse two thermosets together – you need to glue them if they need to be combined. Conversely, two thermoplastic parts can be remelted and fused together to make larger and more complex parts and assemblies.” As a matter of fact, thermoplastics can be heatmolded and reshaped repeatedly, unlocking the potential for increased recyclability. The amount of energy to produce, mold and fuse thermoplastic materials is very localized and much lower than powering an entire autoclave. Combined with the fact that thermoplastic materials are shelf stable, require no refrigeration and do not expire, the material is all around more environmentally friendly. Bringing the benefits of thermoplastics to the aerospace industry Because thermoplastics can be manufactured at cycle times that are reduced by as much as 80 percent and with higher levels of automation, they provide significant improvement in high-rate production compared to thermosets. In addition, their high durability and impact resistance can be tailored to withstand harsher environments while their low density and unique material characteristics can reduce the overall weight of an aircraft’s structures by as much as 50 percent compared to metal, thereby increasing fuel efficiency and lowering emissions. Thermoplastic composites are already in use today across multiple platforms, but they are for the most part in production for medium-sized, less structural parts. The industry is working now to make the step changes necessary to enable thermoplastics to be designed and manufactured for larger, more complex and integrated stiffened structures. These could initially include nacelle cowlings and flight control surfaces, and then ultimately lead to fuselage segments and wing components. Creating a more sustainable future While thermoplastics manufacturing is quicker and more efficient, it also provides sustainability benefits because the resulting components can be broken down Thermoplastics Are a Key Technology for the Future of Aerospace
www.acmanet.org 13 ADVERTORIAL into re-moldable material that is inherently more reusable. Thermoplastic excess material and manufacturing scraps can also be repurposed and used to make next assembly detail parts such as clips and brackets. Although thermoplastics have been around for decades, Collins is developing specific state-of-the-art technologies that enable them to be structurally joined together to achieve optimized structural designs with fewer – or no – fasteners and eliminating bonded joints, thus resulting in lower-weight more efficient products. Reducing aircraft weight using thermoplastics equates to greater fuel efficiency at a time when aerospace customers are counting on manufacturer innovation for lighter-weight products that address specific fuelconsumption metrics. By incorporating thermoplastics into nacelle components such as thrust reversers, as well as other highly engineered aerospace structural components, engineers can optimize the designs to get the most weight reduction. “At Collins, one of the biggest areas where we can most dramatically impact sustainability is via the weight of our products — so that’s where our Advanced Structures business is focusing its efforts,” Dion says. “Lighter aircraft equate to lower emissions and a greater ability to reach our industry’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.” Thrmoplastics toolbox brings expanded capabilities The extensive toolbox of advanced thermoplastic technologies includes automated fiber placement (AFP), multiple advanced joining technologies, and large press stamp forming that allow Collins to introduce more sustainable differentiated aerostructures. The company is on target to demonstrate a thermoplastic fan cowl by welding large, curved frames to a fiberplaced skin later this year. This is being done via a production representative pilot line to mature the suite of manufacturing technologies that will be applicable to many large aircraft structures. “With thermoplastic AFP, you lay down and fuse multiple strands of thermoplastic tape together and build thickness across wide areas while using less energy,” Dion explained. “Then the skin is quickly consolidated, at which point you can weld other thermoplastic parts to it to build up the complexity of the part – which you can’t do with thermosets.” This transformative project is one of many at Collins that showcase a building-block approach to certifying a complex thermoplastic critical structure. Other major, full-scale demonstration projects include a thermoplastic passenger door, structural interior products, and multiple flight control surfaces for defense, commercial and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) applications. Today, Collins Aerospace produces more than 2,000 different thermoplastic composite parts with hundreds of parts currently in qualification. Parts can be found on the fuselage, wing, tailplane, nacelles, flight control surfaces and doors, and are currently supplied to twenty different types of aircraft ranging from widebodies to single aisle, and business jets to helicopter platforms. Collins is now pursuing larger, more advanced parts and fastener-less assemblies with the plan of introducing them into service on existing commercial and military aircraft platforms as product improvements. This will help expedite sustainability benefits without having to wait for a new clean sheet airplane design. Additionally, this will allow these manufacturing processes and product improvements to be proven out and mature well ahead of next generation airplane. Collaborating for success Going forward, Collins is leveraging this unique expertise as part of a broader industry initiative to develop a new level of advanced thermoplastics capabilities and a distinctive product portfolio for the benefit of current and future customers. The company is coordinating further advances across its global sites, while also collaborating with other leading industry members, wellknown universities, associations and consortiums who are specialized in thermoplastic composites, robotics and manufacturing to ensure continued developments and innovation that positively impact aerospace sustainability. “It’s a huge effort to move this innovation forward for the benefit of the industry,” Dion said. “We will continue working across consortia in the U.S. and Europe to help drive common approaches and certification requirements that may expedite incorporation of these technologies – thereby realizing increased performance and environmental benefits as quickly as possible in anticipation of the next wave of aircraft development programs.”
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www.acmanet.org 15 Hydrogen is often touted as the green energy carrier of the future – and it’s time may arrive sooner than you think. “There are already 10 million metric tons being tanked, trucked and used around the country in petroleum, fertilizer, chemical, food and other industries,” says Frank Wolak, president and CEO of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA). “By 2050, it’s expected that hydrogen could account for 14% of energy use in the United States.” There’s reason for optimism: Hydrogen is a clean fuel that can be produced from numerous domestic sources, such as natural gas, biomass and renewable power. It can be generated from greenhouse gas-neutral sources, which aids in decarbonization efforts and addresses climate change concerns. When consumed in a fuel cell, hydrogen produces only water. “Hydrogen is truly that missing piece to the 100% decarbonized energy system puzzle,” says Claire Behar, chief commercial officer at Hy Stor Energy, a company that is developing and advancing green hydrogen production, storage and delivery. “Hydrogen has the power to decarbonize high energy-intensive industries and provide reliability for renewable sources and long-duration green energy storage.” The FCHEA projects that $750 billion in revenue will be generated along the hydrogen value chain by 2050 – $475 billion from manufacturing of equipment, specialized materials and enduse applications. That’s good news for the composites industry. “As people want more and more hydrogen at economies of scale, there will be an increasing need for materials to build bigger tanks that withstand higher pressures and colder temperatures,” says Wolak. “It’s going to result in composites being seen and used in ways that weren’t required before.” A Plug and Drive Solution One company that recognizes the potential is the Voith Group. Two of its divisions are tapping into their expertise to develop 700-bar type IV hydrogen storage tanks for heavy duty trucks: Voith Composites has experience manufacturing CFRP parts for the automotive industry, and Voith Turbo provides transmission systems for commercial vehicles. “Heavy duty trucks need bigger tanks with a lot more hydrogen inside, which makes it technically challenging,” says Anna Pointner, CEO of Voith Composites. “We saw a fit between our strengths and what the market requires. We understand large-scale automotive processes and complex composite processes, which is quite different than producing just one tank.” Development of the Voith Plug & Drive H2 Storage System – a complete system from tank nozzle to fuel cell inlet – began Momentum in the Hydrogen Energy Movement The convergence of decarbonization efforts, improved technologies and government mandates is accelerating the green hydrogen industry. By Susan Keen Flynn This rendering of the Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub, which is slated to begin service in 2026, depicts co-location of green hydrogen production, storage and delivery. Photo Credit: Hy Stor Energy
CompositesManufacturing 16 three years ago. Voith Composites provides the tanks, which are made from T700, a high tensile strength, standard modulus carbon fiber, and a specialty epoxy-based resin developed by Huntsmen for Voith’s towpreg winding process. “We combine the fibers and resins together to make towpregs in a very early stage of the process, then put them into tapes and wind them onto the tank,” says Pointner. “That enables us to control the way the fibers and resins work together. In the end, we need less material for the same performance.” The resulting Carbon4Tank, which also features a nylon liner, is then sent to Voith Turbo. The division builds the tanks into a mechanical structure that fits behind the truck cab. They add the gas systems – valves, pressure regulators and piping – as well as electrical systems and an automotive control unit. “It’s a plug and drive solution that can be integrated into a customer vehicle in less than 10 minutes in series production,” says Patrick Seidel, product owner of H2 Storage Systems for Voith Turbo. Seidel says Voith is close to achieving certification so vehicles with the Plug & Drive H2 Storage System can drive unrestricted on public roads. In addition, the company plans to send several customers, including a large European truck OEM, samples in the second half of 2023 to obtain vehicle approval in different environmental conditions. A Hydrogen Energy Hub Heavy duty trucks are just one viable application for hydrogen energy. It’s well-suited for other energy-intensive industries beyond transportation, such as the industrial sector. “These are industries where direct electrification is not an economical, viable option,” says Behar. “This is where green hydrogen and hydrogen storage will play a leading role.” To meet growing demand, Hy Stor Energy is building the Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub on approximately 70,000 acres in the southern part of the state to combine onsite production of green hydrogen with underground, salt cavern storage. “Salt caverns are the lowest cost solution for long-duration storage of massive quantities of hydrogen,” says Behar. The location provides easy access to major shipping and logistics corridors, including the Mississippi River, for delivery throughout the U.S. In addition, Hy Stor intentionally outsized its acreage so customers could co-locate with them at the hub. “The co-location of supply and demand will reduce the need for miles of pipes and decrease storage costs, which will help us scale up and create ecosystems to accelerate new innovation, technology and materials,” says Behar. Hy Stor has spent the past four years acquiring land and necessary permits. It plans to start construction of the hub by the end of this year, with a 2026 service date. The company is working closely with the Department of Energy’s National In the U.S. National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap released in June, the Biden Administration cited production of fiber and resin as targets for future industrial hydrogen use. This document, mandated by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, will be updated as the use of hydrogen matures. The report breaks down current hydrogen use by sector and discusses efforts by the administration to incentivize expanding the use of hydrogen. Hydrogen is an integral part of the Biden administration’s effort to shift the U.S. energy grid to 100% percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In the section on chemical manufacturing, the Biden administration notes that producers of “plastics, explosives, synthetic fibers, resins and other chemicals” are currently significant energy users. In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act included significant incentives for hydrogen use in industrial, automotive and other applications. The bill expanded the scope of numerous tax credits from established renewable energy technologies to also include hydrogen applications. These credits come with several stipulations, including the source of the hydrogen, domestic content of equipment and prevailing wage requirements. Contributed by Dan Neumann, ACMA’s vice president of government relations Composites Are Part of the National Hydrogen Strategy Voith Composites uses a towpreg winding process to manufacture 700-bar type IV hydrogen storage tanks. Photo Credit: Voith Group
www.acmanet.org 17 Laboratories to test and scale up new hydrogen storage technologies, materials and designs. The company has also teamed with research engineers and material scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to improve the properties of polymers in composites and boost their performance in potential hydrogen energy applications. “Different applications will require different pressures, and this is where innovation in either materials or designs will play a huge role in bringing down the cost,” says Behar. Hurdles to the Hydrogen Economy While companies like the Voith Group and Hy Stor Energy are advocates for hydrogen energy, they recognize there are challenges to achieving a hydrogen economy – where hydrogen delivers a substantial percentage of the world’s energy. One of the primary hurdles to large-scale industrial deployment is the lack of existing infrastructure. “With hydrogen, we are creating this entirely new energy system,” says Behar. “That requires a large infrastructure to be built, and that takes a long time and a large capital investment.” A robust infrastructure necessitates ample production and storage facilities, high-powered compressors, pipelines, tanks, fueling stations and more. Another obstacle is getting hydrogen production to scale at low cost. Governments around the world are committed to seeing this happen. The European Green Deal and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S. provide incentives to build the necessary infrastructure and scale up production. (See the sidebar on page 16 for more information.) “You will need enough production to stimulate truckers, fleet operators and other early adopters to count on hydrogen,” says The Voith Plug & Drive H2 Storage System provides an integrated solution to help heavy duty truck manufacturers convert to green energy. Photo Credit: Voith Group
CompositesManufacturing 18 Wolak. “If they are going to invest in a 10-year truck platform, will they be assured there is enough volume from suppliers to get the fuel they need?” Supply security is crucial. “It’s all about resiliency – the ability to quite literally keep the lights on,” says Behar. There is concern not just about sufficient volumes of hydrogen, but also availability of the materials used in ancillary components, such as storage tanks. “It is feasible to produce the tanks, but carbon fiber is very expensive,” says Pointner. “And there is worry in the industry that there might not be enough carbon fiber to supply all the tanks required.” She adds that the composites industry needs to push for efficient production of carbon fiber, as well as develop viable carbon fiber recycling methods that reduce demand for virgin fibers. An All-Hands-On-Deck Approach Despite the challenges, companies within the hydrogen energy industry remain confident. “It will take time, but the U.S. government and the Department of Energy are committed to hydrogen energy,” says Behar. “In the next five years, we are going to see a renaissance in green energy, hydrogen manufacturing and engineering innovation.” Composites companies that want to be a part of that renaissance first need a thorough understanding of hydrogen energy and the integrated system required to produce, store and distribute it. That requires forging new collaborations. “With the market in such infancy, this is an extraordinary opportunity to really learn from one another and from the early adopters,” says Behar. “Find partners in the industry who can tell you about the challenges they and their end-use customers are facing.” She adds that building the infrastructure and scaling up production will require input from companies in many industries, including composites. “This is where an all-hands-on-deck approach – and hearing lessons that composites companies have learned from other industries – will be extremely valuable,” says Behar. The most fruitful relationships start on the ground floor. “From a composites manufacturing perspective, you really need to understand every detail right from the beginning,” says Pointner. “It’s different from other products where you can learn a lot along the way because development work [in hydrogen energy] is very expensive and products need to meet extremely stringent requirements. It’s a new field with new product dimensions that push the boundaries in every direction.” There is still a lot of work to be done before hydrogen energy realizes its potential. But the alignment of societal support for decarbonization, government mandates and incentives, and technological advancements has generated momentum for the green energy carrier. “Its time has come,” says Wolak. “When you look at where we are today with rapid decarbonization, electrification and transition from fossil fuels, hydrogen becomes this really useful resource that has come of age.” Susan Keen Flynn is managing editor of Composites Manufacturing magazine. Email comments to email@example.com. ENROLL IN THE CERTIFIED COMPOSITES TECHNICIAN PROGRAM NOW! ENROLL TODAY ACMA.TODAY/CCT The Certified Composites Technician (CCT) program sets an industry standard for comprehensive, uniform composites manufacturing training. Explore these exciting areas to improve production performance and establish technical skill baselines in your facility today! - Advanced Composites - Cast Polymer - Compression Molding - Corrosion - Light Resin Transfer Molding - Open Molding - Vacuum Infusion Process - Wind Blade Repair OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS