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The industries we serve are actively seeking an alternative core material... We believe that INCA’s BioBalsa panels may be this alternative...

“Gurit provides advanced composite solutions to the wind energy, marine and other industries. Our portfolio of structural core materials, prepregs, adhesives, and engineering services is recognized world-wide. The industries we serve are actively seeking an alternative core material that can deliver the compressive and sheer strength of balsa. Our customers also share aggressive sustainability goals. We believe that INCA’s BioBalsa panels may be this alternative and look forward to partnering with them to develop and, if proven successful, to commercialize the product.”

ERNST LUTZ
Chief Technology Officer
Gurit

The core of wind turbine blades

Wind turbine blades are made from balsa wood which has low density and high strength. These unique characteristics deliver the necessary compressive and sheer strength, fatigue and impact performance.

In the case of wind turbine blades, shaped balsa wood is sandwiched in the core of the blade and surrounded with styrene resonated glass fibre mats. Today’s giant 100m+ blades require 150 cubic meters of balsa.

Balsa is fast-growing but doesn’t grow quickly enough on balsa plantations to extract whole logs large enough to cut long boards. Manufacturers have resorted to gluing together cross-cut squares from trunks of trees to form stress skin panels.

This development has added considerable cost to manufacturing balsa dimensional sheets, since each cross-cut section of tree stalk has to be cut in a rectangular shape to allow block-to-block gluing to form desired planks. In addition, cross-cut balsa planks have very little flexural modulus strength due to loading being applied in the fiber direction, rather than across the fiber direction as is typical for normal wood products. To strengthen cross-cut balsa, manufacturers add styrene adhesives and glass fibre, both of which are extensive and energy intensive to manufacture.

INCA Bio Balsa

INCA BioBalsa is the high performance, sustainable, price competitive alternative

Constructed from hemp hurd cellulose, BioBalsa offers comparable density to balsa of 10 lbs/ft3 (160 kg/m3) — but with better compressive strength thanks to randomness of fibre placement — which delivers uniform strength in all directions. Unlike balsa, it can be formulated to reject moisture and adjusted to specific binding resins and flame resistance specifications. Similar to balsa, but unlike PET and PVC, it has the sheer strength required for installation in all sections of the wind turbine blade – including the root section.

Versus balsa, PET or PVC, INCA BioBalsa is sustainable at every stage of its lifecycle. While growing, hemp sequesters 8-15 tonnes of CO2E per acre.

INCA acquires hemp from the Canadian Prairies where hemp is sustainably grown for protein. INCA decorticates the waste stream into fibre and hurd for our advanced composites product line. This puts the waste biomass to productive use and provides farmers with an additional revenue stream.

Our manufacturing process results in significant reductions in carbon emissions and waste versus the alternatives. After decommissioning, new technologies have been developed that will enable blades to be deconstructed and the individual materials recycled. INCA BioBalsa will be 100% made in Canada.