AkzoNobel opens world-first purpose built wind turbine blade coatings testing facility

Posted on 12 Jun 2024 by The Manufacturer

International, AkzoNobel’s protective coatings brand has opened a new, world-class Rain Erosion Test (RET) facility at its global hub for research and development in Felling.

This is the first purpose-built and designed facility of its kind on the market globally, fitted with sound insulation, a small laboratory and a 1,000 litre water recycling tank, among other design elements.

The Rain Erosion Test (which can be seen in the video below) will simulate real-life, harsh weather conditions to test new paint and coatings products specially designed for wind turbine blades. At full speed, the ‘Helicopter’ test is capable of running at 176 metres per second, or half the speed of sound.

The test can run at full speed in under one minute, set from a computer and can simulate weather conditions from different regions around the world, including water flow rates and both water and air temperatures.

AkzoNobel is the first coatings company in the country to have this equipment. And it is the 16th test facility of its kind worldwide. The £1.4m investment means that the site can accelerate product development as it has the potential capacity to triple the number of tests the company can run every week.

Prior to opening this facility, this test was outsourced to other companies in the UK and overseas twice a month. This move will therefore result in a reduction in costs, time and international shipping, making it a more sustainable solution. International also states that this investment reaffirms the its commitment to the site, adding security for the existing jobs in Felling.

AkzoNobel’s Project Manager for the new Rain Erosion Tester facility project Chris Hight

Ralph Slikkerveer, R&D Director for AkzoNobel’s Marine, Protective, & Yacht divisions, said: “Today marks an exciting new chapter in both International and AkzoNobel’s long history supporting innovation and product development and commitment to sustainable solutions. Bringing this type of world-class testing in-house, where we can immediately generate the data, analyse results and prolong testing periods, will transform our contributions to innovation in the wind energy sector.

“As one of the market leaders, AkzoNobel will now be able to more meaningfully participate in lifetime prediction discussions on protective coating systems for wind turbine blades.”

Adam Stephenson, Sales Cluster Manager for AkzoNobel’s Marine & Protective divisions, said: “Our customers can feel reassured that the International protective coatings tested at our new facility will help future-proof their blades, helping them withstand the most extreme weather conditions of today and tomorrow.”

AkzoNobel commemorated the opening of the facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and guided tour attended by the new Deputy Mayor of Gateshead Council, Freda Geddes and other invited guests.

“We will 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.

“This is further proof that AkzoNobel is setting industry standards and connecting the dots for our customers in the wind energy sector.”

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