Leading Fibreglass Product Manufacturer Wins JEC Innovation Award

3B, a leading manufacturer of fibreglass products for the reinforcement of thermoplastics and thermosets, and its partners Fred Olsen, Ltd., Ghent University and Spiromatic, NV, are being honoured with the 2009 JEC Innovation Award for Environment & Energy at the JEC Composites Show held in Paris, France March 24-26.

The design concept of the Wave Energy Converter, the FO3, a robust floating platform with oscillating point absorbers, is to produce electricity from the movement of waves. Two innovative products from 3B – Advantex™ boron-free E-glass fibre and HiPer-tex™ high-performance glass fibre – are being qualified for the project. These composite materials offer long-term resistance to corrosion, fatigue and the continuous impact and slamming of waves, extreme weather and climate, as well as low maintenance.

The FO3 Wave Energy Converter, developed by Fred Olsen, is being assisted by SEWEEC*, an EU funded project and is participating in the United Kingdom’s Wave Hub project, one of the first large-scale commercial wave farms planned for launch in the spring of 2010.

“Although 3B is a young company, we have a rich heritage of innovation in reinforcing materials,” said Philippe Nellissen, 3B business development manager. “Wave farms present major material challenges, ranging from harsh weather and corrosive seawater to the difficulties of providing maintenance. Using the latest materials and an innovative design, our team of development partners has created a structure that we believe will make a major contribution to the success of the Marine Renewable Energy progress and help to leverage this completely new source of clean, renewable energy.”

Exceptional materials for a breakthrough application

The extremely demanding open-ocean environment that the Wave Energy Converter will face calls for exceptional materials. For example, the slamming action of waves against the floating point absorbers requires extremely durable and resilient construction, therefore, Ghent University scientists recommended filament winding as the preferable production process. Both Advantex™ and HiPer-tex™ glass fibres, currently under qualification, may be combined in the final application, each bringing its own benefits and performance advantages.

Advantex™ glass fibre is performance proven through long-term exposure to all aqueous environments, including water and alkaline solutions, and offers superior corrosion resistance. These attributes translate into longer service life. HiPer-tex™ glass fibre, which offers higher strength and strain energy than traditional alternatives, delivers cost benefits that stem from a breakthrough manufacturing process and low maintenance. In addition to their use for the floating point absorbers, the 3B glass fibre solutions will be evaluated for other structural components of the FO3 Wave Energy Converter.

The development team comprises: Fred Olsen, Ltd., of Oslo, Norway, the developer, owner and operator of the Wave Energy Converter; Ghent University in Ghent, Belgium, responsible for the mechanical design and testing of the materials and structures, including the axisymmetric floating point absorbers; Spiromatic NV in Nazareth, Belgium, which manufactures the components; and 3B, which serves as the reinforcement supplier and advisor. Fred Olsen is one of several wave energy companies working with the Wave Hub project to evaluate new technologies.

Together with tidal power generation the world’s oceans energy resources are enormous and as these innovative technologies develop and spread worldwide they offer great potential by becoming part of the overall mix of sources of renewable energy generation.

The JEC Innovation Awards Programme for 2009 recognized eight innovations in seven categories. Started in 1998, the programme honours the best composites innovations in terms of technical interest, commercial potential, partners, financial impact and originality.


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