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13th November 2017, Leverkusen

Solar assistance with PU composites

In mid-September, Hurricane Maria caused major devastation to Puerto Rico, including knocking out the island’s power grid. Weeks after the storm, the majority of Puerto Ricans are still without electricity.

While rebuilding will be a long-term effort, a solar photovoltaic (PV) mobile electric generator is helping restore power to the US territory.

The Sun Commander generator on its way to Puerto Rico to assist with rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Maria. © Covestro

This portable solar solution, the Sun Commander Series 8000 from Day and Night Solar (DNS), is providing immediate relief for the island by powering the construction sites where permanent renewable energy sources are being built.

The expansive retractable array framework of the generator is formed from polyurethane (PU) composites produced via pultrusion using a Covestro PU system. Creative Pultrusions pultruded the PU used for the generator’s framework which enabled DNS to slash the weight of the generator by half a ton.

Unlike other traditional materials, strong, yet lightweight PU composites will not rot or rust and are very resistant to corrosion. Given the coastal environment, traditional materials may deteriorate when exposed to salt spray and high humidity. PU composites are also non-conductive, eliminating the need for grounding, which is especially important for this application.

The Sun Commander generator moves from construction site to construction site throughout Puerto Rico, pulled behind a standard pickup truck. The solar array consists of 36 x 260 watt all-glass panels, creating a total DC system size of 9.36 kilowatts. When not in off-grid use, the versatile generator can be connected to an existing electrical system, helping to reduce the demand on that system by pumping power back onto the grid.

Based on the success of the Sun Commander, DNS has expanded its product line with the Sunpoly, a new, ground-mounted solar racking system manufactured almost entirely from PU composite materials, a first in the industry.

The lightweight, easy-to-install Sunpoly system supports a pair of 72-cell solar panels in portrait mode and can withstand winds up to 185 miles per hour. Its corrosion-resistant properties help it withstand all types of environments for years of low-maintenance service. The Sunpoly system also has the same non-conductive properties as the Sun Commander.

“Advanced PU composites are an ideal fit for solar technologies due to their lightweight, non-conductive and rust-resistant properties, and are far superior to traditional materials,” said Eric Denison, vice president of polyurethane systems at Covestro. “Sustainability is a core part of our mission and we’re proud that DNS continues to use our materials to help advance the adoption of renewable energy sources.”

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