Making climate neutrality a reality with Epoxies
2021 was a defining year for the future of humanity. Touted the super year, 2021 brought together global leaders in Glasgow for the biannual climate conference to assess the progress towards the historical climate goals set five years ago in the city of Paris. While the outcome of the negotiations left much to be desired, there was unequivocal agreement that we need to accelerate action towards reducing carbon emissions to have a real chance of keeping global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Epoxy resins have a critical role to play in realising the vision of a climate neutral future. The use of renewable energy solutions is growing throughout Europe. Epoxies play a key role making renewable energy sources durable and resilient. The solar panels used to generate solar energy are often coated with epoxies to protect the panels from wide temperature variances and intense environmental conditions. In wind energy sector, the blades of turbines are made durable with epoxy coatings thanks to their high tensile strength and high creep resistance. Lastly, in hydro power plants, concrete surfaces are protected against low temperatures and lashing water flow with epoxy mortar’s non-permeability, adhesive strength, anti-erosive nature and non-abrasiveness.
Transportation is another sector with a key role to play in pushing the needle in the right direction. Cutting down carbon emissions from transportation could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% in Europe by 2050. In 2030, the CO2 standards in Europe will require more than a third of car sales to be electric, whereas to meet 2050 climate goals, all vehicles sold will have to emit zero emissions by the early 2030s.
Epoxies will be vital for driving this transition towards e-mobility by making our future cars more energy-efficient, durable, and safer to drive. The coils of the electric cars’ motors are typically insulated with a wire enamel followed by an impregnation (varnish) or encapsulation as a secondary insulation, which are commonly made from epoxy resins.
In the future, magnetless motors will be the preferred choice to avoid rare earth-metal based permanent magnets. These motors operate at high rotational speeds which can go up to 20 000 revolutions per minute. This could lead to motor imbalance and ultimately destruction, if the rotor coils are not fixed with a material providing high mechanical strength and excellent crack resistance at high operating temperatures of 150 – 200C. And yes, you’ve guessed it… For this task Epoxy resins are the material of choice!