Marcio Loos, a post-doctoral researcher at Case Western Reserve University, has built a prototype wind turbine blade that is substantially lighter, tougher and more durable than currently used blade materials.

Working on his own at weekends, Marcio Loos built a polyurethane blade reinforced with carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes are lighter per unit of volume than carbon fibre and aluminum and have more than five times the tensile strength of carbon fibre and more than sixty times that of aluminum.

Testing showed that the reinforced polyurethane composite is about eight times tougher and lasts about eight times longer than epoxy, or vinyl ester, reinforced with fibreglass, materials that are currently used to make wind turbine blades.