The hot button issue on everyone's mind these days is the environment and ways we can think "more green" in our daily lives. While science and technology continue pushing the envelope with new advancements, a viable and readily available energy source is continuing to make a footprint in the United States.
Wind Power, first popularized in the 1180's to grind flour by Northern Europeans, has been in continuous use for centuries. A growing trend found on the plains of the American West and Texas is the use of wind power as a viable alternative to electric energy.
For one of the largest planned wind farms in the United States, located near Fort Bridger, Wyo., the expertise of The QUIKRETE® Companies is being utilized to shore up the foundations of 268 massive wind turbines. The extensive project is set for completion in late 2008.
Renewable Energy Systems Americas, Inc. (RES Americas), one of the world leaders in wind turbine construction, began work on the wind farm in 2007. Responsible for the construction of more than 12 percent of the country's wind power capacity, RES Americas contacted The QUIKRETE® Companies in search of an industrial grout that could solidify each wind tower's pedestal and base.
With the average life span of a turbine being 20 years, combined with the significant amount of torque and strain placed on the turbines in high winds, RES Americas needed a highly resilient and affordable material to meet their needs. The project required the use of grout capable of reaching 10,000 pounds-per-square-inch (PSI) in compressive strength in 28 days - a vital figure given the wind farm's construction timetable.
"Since QUIKRETE® Non-Shrink Precision Grout can achieve more than 14,000 PSI in compressive strength in 28 days, it was deemed the perfect candidate for the project," said Ken Diloreto, QUIKRETE® sales representative. "Not only was our material priced more competitively, but the ultimate strength was higher than any other grout being considered."
More than 56,000 pounds of QUIKRETE® Non-Shrink Precision Grout was needed to complete phase-one, consisting of 29 wind turbines. Each 350-foot tall turbine required the construction of a 55-foot wide concrete octagon that served as the turbine's pedestal. QUIKRETE® Non-Shrink Precision Grout was used in both a fluid and dry-pack consistency to set the turbines in place.
By design, the base of a wind turbine takes the brunt of the high torque generated as the massive turbine is spun by the wind. Without a strong grout supporting the pedestal, the turbine could be at risk for structural failure.
"You can imagine the torque and force that's placed on these towers with daily usage - especially considering the constant high winds in Wyoming," Diloreto said. "QUIKRETE® Precision Grout is vital to assuring the overall stability of these turbines, which determine the overall success of the wind farm itself."
SiteWorks, Inc., the subcontractor in charge of the foundation work, used QUIKRETE® Non-Shrink Precision Grout in a low water-to-cement ratio, dry-pack consistency to achieve extremely high ultimate strength. In addition to strength, the convenience of the grout being pre-packaged meant easy transport to the remote site and on-site mixing.
While wind farms remain an alternative energy source, the future is bright for their implementation. The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of obtaining six percent of U.S. electricity from wind by 2020 - a goal that is consistent with the current rate of growth of wind energy nationwide, according to the U.S. Wind Energy Association.
"I think our grout made a great impression on them - there's an excellent opportunity for growth here. We're already working on wind farm projects in northwest Texas using this grout," Diloreto said. "Twenty-three states currently have farms in use or under construction, and the demand for alternative energy is dictating this."
Upon completion, the wind turbine farm will be serviced by Irvine, Calif.-based Edison Mission Electric and will generate more than 400 megawatts of power for customers throughout California.