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Title:
ELECTRICALLY CONDUCTIVE ADHESIVE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/191414
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Disclosed herein is an electrically conductive adhesive composition, articles comprising at least two components adhesively bonded by the electrically conductive adhesive composition and methods of making such adhesives and articles. The electrically conductive adhesive composition includes milled carbon fibers dispersed in a thermosetting resin and a curative agent.

Inventors:
BALDINI, Steven, Eric (3101 McKelvey RoadBridgeton, MO, 63044, US)
CORBIN, David, Michael (3101 McKelvey RoadBridgeton, MO, 63044, US)
Application Number:
US2019/024563
Publication Date:
October 03, 2019
Filing Date:
March 28, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ZOLTEK CORPORATION (3101 McKelvey Road, Bridgeton, MO, 63044, US)
International Classes:
C09J9/02; F03D1/06
Domestic Patent References:
WO2009147415A12009-12-10
WO2016048885A12016-03-31
WO2009079216A12009-06-25
WO2004059663A12004-07-15
Foreign References:
US20040254294A12004-12-16
EP2264310A22010-12-22
Other References:
DATABASE WPI Week 201211, Derwent World Patents Index; AN 2012-A38824, XP002792788
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COHEN, Joshua, L. et al. (RatnerPrestia, 2200 Renaissance BoulevardSuite 35, King of Prussia PA, 19406, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is Claimed:

1. An electrically conductive adhesive composition comprising:

milled carton fibers dispersed in a thermosetting resin; and a curative agent.

2. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to claim 1, wherein the thermosetting resin is an epoxide resin.

3. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the curative agent comprises an amine functional group.

4. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of tire preceding claims, wherein the thermosetting resin comprises at least one of epoxy resin, vinyl ester resins, phenolic resins, unsaturated polyesters, thermoset

polyurethanes, polyimides, bismaleimide resins, benzoxazine resins, silicone resins, and any combination, copolymer, and/or derivative thereof.

5. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the milled carbon fibers are present in an amount in the range of 1 to 20 weight%, based on the total weight of the electrically conductive adhesive composition

6. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the milled carbon fibers have an average diameter in the range of 5 to 10 microns and an average length in the range of 1 to 300 microns.

7. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of the preceding daims, wherein the adhesive composition has a linear conductivity In the range of 10 14 to 10 10 siemens/cm.

8. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of the preceding daims, wherein the milled carbon fibers are free of sizing.

9. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of tiie preceding daims, wherein the milled carbon fibers are pristine or recyded milled carbon fibers, free of sizing.

10. An article comprising at least two components, where a portion of a first component is adhesively bonded to a portion of a second component using the electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of claims 1-9.

11. The article according to claim 10, wherein at least one of the at least two components comprises a fiber-reinforced resin composite.

12. The artide according to claim 11, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite comprises carbon fibers fused with a binder resin.

13. The artide according to claim 10, wherein at least one of the at least two components is in the form of a pultruded sheet, a resin-infused fabric, a preimpregnated tape, or a sheet molding compound.

14. The artide according to claim 12, wherein the pultruded sheet comprises carbon fibers in a planar tow form fused with a binder resin.

15. The artide according to claim 12, wherein the binder resin comprises a thermosetting binder resin chosen from among unsaturated polyesters, epoxy resins, vinyl ester resins, phenolic resins, thermoset polyurethanes, po!yimides, bismaleimide resins, benzoxazine resins, and silicone resins.

16. The article according to claim 12, wherein the binder resin comprises a thermoplastic binder resin chosen from among polyolefins, cyclic polyolefins, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, thermoplastic polyesters, polyvinyl alcohols, polymethyl methacrylates, styrene maleic anhydrides, polyoxymethy!ene (acetals), thermoplastic polyurethanes, polyethylene terephthaiates, polytrimethylene terephthaiates, polybutylene terephthaiates, polyamides,

polycarbonates, polyvinylpyrrolidone, po!ytetrafluoroethyiene, po!ysulfones,

polyethersulfones, polyphenylene sulfides, polyetherimides, po!yamide-imides, poiyetheretherketones, and poiyaryietherketones, including alloys and blends.

17. The artide according to any one of claims 13-16, wherein the fabric comprises a multidirectional fabric, a unidirectional fabric or a woven fabric.

18. The artide according to claim 13, wherein pultruded sheet comprises at least one of:

a) 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with a vinyl ester resin, or

b) 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with an epoxy resin, wherein the amount in % by volume is based on the total volume of the fiber-reinforced resin composite.

19. A spar cap comprising a plurality of fiber-reinforced resin composite sheets adhesively bonded to each other using the adhesive composition according to any one of claims 1-9,

wherein each fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet comprises 50 to 80 % by volume of carbon fibers fused with a binder resin, wherein the amount in % by volume is based on the total volume of the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet.

20. The spar cap according to claim 19, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet comprises 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with a vinyl ester resin.

21. The spar cap according to claim 19, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet comprises 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with an epoxy resin.

22. A method comprising the steps of:

a) dispersing milled carbon fibers In a thermosetting resin to form a mixture; and

b) adding a curative agent to the mixture and optionally curing to form an electrically conductive adhesive.

23. The method according to daim 22 wherein the step of dispersing milled carbon fibers in a thermosetting resin to form a mixture is done mechanically.

24. The method according to daim 23, wherein the step of adding a curative agent to the mixture further comprises mixing under vacuum.

25. The method according to any one of claims 22-24, further comprising c) applying the electrically conductive adhesive on a portion of a surface of a first component; and

d) adhesively bonding a second component to the first component, such that the electrically «inductive adhesive is disposed between the first and the components to form a composite panel.

26. The method according to claim 25, wherein at least one of the first or the second components comprises a fiber-reinforced resin composite.

27. The method according to claim 26, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite comprises carbon fibers fused with a binder resin.

28. The method according to claim 26, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite is in the form of a puitruded sheet, a resin-infused fabric, a pre-impregnated tape, or a sheet molding compound.

29. The method according to daim 28, wherein the puitruded sheet comprises carbon fibers in a planar tow form fused with a binder resin.

30. The method according to daim 27, wherein the binder resin comprises a thermosetting binder resin chosen from among unsaturated polyesters, epoxy resins, vinyl ester resins, phenolic resins, thermoset polyurethanes, poiyimides, bismaleimide resins, benzoxazine resins, and silicone resins.

31. The method according to claim 27, wherein the binder resin comprises a thermoplastic binder resin chosen from among polyolefins, cydic polyolefins, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, thermoplastic polyesters, polyvinyl alcohols, po!ymethy! methacrylates, styrene maleic anhydrides, polyoxymethylene (acetals), thermoplastic polyurethanes, polyethylene terephthaiates, polytrimethylene terephthaiates, polybutylene terephthaiates, polyamides, polycarbonates, polyvinylpyrrolidone, polytetrafluoroethylene, polysulfones, polyethersulfones, polyphenylene sulfides, polyetherimides, polyamlde-imldes, polyetheretherketones, and polyaryletherketones, including alloys and blends.

32. The method according to claim 28, wherein the fabric comprises a multidirectional fabric, a unidirectional fabric or a woven fabric.

33. The method according to daim 28, wherein the puitruded sheet comprises 20-80% by volume carbon fibers, based on the total volume of the fiber- reinforced resin composite.

34. The method according to daim 28, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite is in a form of a puitruded sheet comprising 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with a vinyl ester resin.

35. The method according to claim 28, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite is in a form of a puitruded sheet comprising 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with an epoxy resin.

36. The method according to any one of claims 25-35, wherein the composite panel is in the form of a spar cap.

37. Art article comprising at least two components, where a portion of a first component is adhesively bonded to a portion of a second component by an electrically conductive adhesive according to any one of claims 1-9.

38. The artide according to daim 37 wherein the article is a spar cap and wherein the two components forms a chamfer region.

39. The artide according to claim 37, further comprising the electrically conductive adhesive disposed over at least one of the at least two components.

40. The artide according to claim 38, and wherein the electrically conductive adhesive extends beyond the chamfer region onto both surfaces of the adjoining components.

Description:
ELECTRICALLY CONDUCTIVE ADHESIVE

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This Application is related to, and claims the benefit of priority of U.S.

Provisional Application No. 62/649,054, entitled ELECTRICALLY CONDUCTIVE

ADHESIVE, filed on 28 March 2018, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety for all purposes.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present disclosure relates generally to electrically conductive adhesive composition including milled carbon fibers dispersed In a thermosetting retin and a curative agent. The present disclosure also relates generally to articles comprising at least two components adhesively bonded by the electrically conductive adhesive composition and methods of making such adhesives and articles.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Many electrically conductive surfaces when bonded using an adhesive display good longitudinal or surface electrical conductivity, but poor through-thickness transverse electrical conductivity. Hence, there is a need for an improved electrically conductive adhesive for bonding electrically conductive surfaces and for improving the through-thickness transverse electrical conductivity of bonded surfaces.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] In an aspect, there is an electrically conductive adhesive composition comprising milled carbon fibers dispersed in a thermosetting resin and a curative agent.

[0005] In another aspect, there is an article comprising at least two

components, where a portion of a first component Is adhesively bonded to a portion of a second component using the electrically conductive adhesive composition of the present invention.

[0006] In yet another aspect, there is a spar cap comprising a plurality of fiber- reinforced resin composite sheets adhesively bonded to each other using the electrically conductive adhesive composition of the present invention, wherein each fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet comprises 50 to 80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with a binder resin, wherein the amount in % by volume is based on the total volume of the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet.

[0007] In yet another aspect, there is a method comprising the steps of dispersing milled carbon fibers in a thermosetting resin to form a mixture and adding a curative agent to the mixture and optionally curing to form an electrically conductive adhesive. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, iliustrate one (several) embodiment(s) of the invention, and together with die written description, serve to explain certain principles of the invention.

[0009] FIG. 1 shows a method of making an electrically conductive adhesive, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

[0010] FIG. 2 shows another method of making an electrically conductive adhesive, in accordance with various embodiments of die present invention.

[0011] FIG. 3 shows results of difference in the mixing methods: without and with vacuum.

[0012] FIG. 4 shows a method of application of electrically conductive adhesive of the present invention on to a surface of a panel.

[0013] FIG. 5 shows a sectional view of a portion of an exemplary article comprising a composite panel, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

[0014] FIG. 6 shows a sectional view of a portion of another exemplary article comprising a composite panel, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

[0015] FIG. 7 shows an exemplary schematic sectional diagram of a portion of a spar cap, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 8 shows another exemplary schematic sectional diagram of a portion of a spar cap, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 9 shows an exemplary experimental set-up for measuring through thickness electrical conductivity in accordant» to ANSI ANSI/ESD STM11.12.

[0018] FIG. 10 shows a graph showing through-thickness electrical conductivity of a composite panel comprising two pultruded sheets adhesively bonded by the electrically conductive adhesive of the present Invention made by two different mixing methods, as a function of filler content, wherein each pultruded sheet comprises 20-80 % by volume of carbon fiber fused with a vinyl ester resin.

[0019] FIG. 11 shows a graph showing through-thickness electrical conductivity of a composite panel comprising two pultruded sheets adhesively bonded by the electrically conductive adhesive of the present invention, as a function of filler content, wherein each pultruded sheet comprises 20-80% by volume of carbon fiber.

[0020] FIG. 12 shows a graph showing through-thickness electrical conductivity of a composite panel comprising two pultruded sheets adhesively bonded by the electrically conductive adhesive of the present invention made by two different mixing methods, as a function of filler content, wherein each pultruded sheet comprises 20-80 % by volume of carbon fiber fused with an epoxy resin.

[0021] FIG. 13 shows the results of an electrical strike in a non-conductive adhesive joint and a conductive adhesive joint.

[0022] FIG. 14 shows a picture of an exemplary C-section, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0023] Although the invention is illustrated and described herein with reference to specific embodiments, the invention is not intended to be limited to the details shown. Rather, various modifications may be made in the details within the scope and range of equivalents of the claims and without departing from the invention.

[00243 The wind energy industry requires lightning protection for the blades in which carbon fiber-reinforced resin composites have been commonly used for the spar caps. Procured carbon fiber-reinforced resin composites are typically bonded together in a stack using a binder resin which is not electrically conductive. Due to the strong anisotropy of the electrical conductivity of the carbon fibers and uni-directional planar tow fonm of these carton fiber-reinforced resin composites, the lengthwise conductivity of these carbon fiber-reinforced resin composites can be four orders of magnitude higher than transverse conductivity. Hence, as a result of this anisotropy, during a lightning strike, the high energy electricity would flow lengthwise, but would arc transversely, which could result in elevation in temperature, and thereby can cause delamination or incineration of die spar cap. Therefore, it has been discovered that there is a need to effectively enhance the through-thickness transverse electrical conductivity of the carbon fiber-reinforced retin composites forming the spar cap. It has been contemplated to increase the electrical conductivity of materials by various techniques, such as:

• Incorporating nanomaterials in adhesives. However, nanomaterials are expensive and may require special precautions in handling further increasing COM, as powdered nanomaterials can be considered a hazardous material in some environments.

• Incorporating metal partides and/or metal coated particles in adhesives.

• Improving conductivities of prepreg materials rather than adhesives

• Some targeted film making

• Some targeted surface films and treatments

[00253 To the extent that these approaches have various issues, alternative approaches may be more efficient and cost effective for enhancing the electrical conductivity of adhesives. Further, enhandng the electrical conductivity of adhesives provides a way to assure electrical continuity through the entire thickness of a bonded stack of plates In a spar cap. It Is the objective of the present invention to effectively enhance the electrical conductivity of adhesives.

[0026] Disclosed herein is an electrically conductive adhesive composition, articles comprising at least two components adhesively bonded by the electrically conductive adhesive composition and methods of making thereof.

[0027] In an aspect, there is an electrically conductive adhesive composition comprising milled carbon fibers dispersed in a thermosetting resin and a curative agent. The milled carton fibers can be present in an amount in the range of 2 to 40 weight%, or l to 50 weight%, based on the total weight of the electrically conductive adhesive composition.

[0028] In an embodiment, the adhesive composition has a linear conductivity in the range of 10 14 - 10 10 siemens/cm.

[0029] Any suitable milled carton fibers can be used, whether they are milled from pristine carton fibers or recycled carbon fibers. In an embodiment, the milled carbon fibers are recycled milled carbon fibers, free of sizing. As used herein, the phrase "recycled milled carbon fibers, free of sizing" refers to carbon fibers that end up as waste at some point in their lifecycle. The fiber source of the recycled milled carbon fibers could be fiber that was deemed unsuitable for continuous or chopped fiber product, fiber that was ait off during normal production of the fiber, or left over from tiie manufacturing process of carbon fiber intermediate products. Additionally, there is a little bit of fiber left over at the end of each fiber production run - that can be used as fiber source for making recycled milled carbon fiber. These wasted carbon fibers are stripped of any sizing that they might have had before being milled and converted into milled carbon fibers.

[0030] In an embodiment, the milled carbon fibers have an electrical resistivity of about 0.00155 Ohm-cm. The milled carbon fibers can have an average diameter in the range of 5 to 10 microns, and an average length in the range of 5 to 300 microns. In an embodiment, milled carbon fibers can have an average diameter of 7.2 microns and an average length of 100 microns. Suitable examples of commercially available milled carbon fibers include, but are not limited to: PX35MF0150, PX35MF0200, all available from Zo!tek Corporation.

[0031] Any suitable thermosetting resin can be used, including, but not limited to at least one of epoxy resin, vinyl ester resins, phenolic resins (such as , phenolic formaldehyde (PF) resins, phenolic neoprene, resorcinol formaldehydes (RF)), unsaturated polyesters, thermoset polyurethanes, polyimldes, bismaleimide resins, benzoxazine resins, silicone resins, and any combination, copolymer, and/or derivative thereof. [0032] In an embodiment, the thermosetting resin is an epoxy resin. Some examples of commercially available thermosetting resin include, but are not limited to: Sikadur WTG-1280 Part A, available from Sika Corporation; Kdrapur 4W-Komp A, available from Kdmmerting Corporation.

[0033] In another embodiment, the curative agent comprises an amine functional group. Some examples of commercially available curative agent indude, but are not limited to: Sikadur WTG-1050 Part B, available from Sika Corporation; and Kdracur 4W-Komp B available from KOmmerling Corporation.

[0034] In yet another embodiment, the thermosetting resin and the curative agent are available as a two component adhesive kit. Some examples of commercially available two component adhesive kit include, but are not limited to: Sikadur WTG- 1280, available from Sika Corporation; and Kdrapur 4W available from Kdmmerilng Corporation.

[0035] In an embodiment, the electrically conductive adhesive composition of the present invention is suitable for use in the wind blade bonding applications.

[0036] The electrically conductive adhesive of the present disclosure could be used for various conductive bonding applications besides spar caps, such as the connection of the cables connecting the spar cap to the main down conductor cable that is part of the lightning protection system for tire blade.

Method of Making An Adhesive Composition

[0037] In an aspect, there is a method comprising the steps of dispersing milled carbon fibers in a thermosetting resin to form a mixture, adding a curative agent to the mixture, followed by mixing thoroughly and optionally curing to form an electrically conductive adhesive. Any suitable mechanical means can be used for the step of dispersing milled carbon fibers in a thermosetting resin to form a mixture. In an embodiment, the step of adding curative agent to the mixture and mixing is done in air, or under inert environment In another embodiment, the step of adding curative agent to the mixture and mixing is done under vacuum. Hie amount of time required for each mixing step will depend upon the composition and the mechanical means and can be in the range 30 seconds to 60 minutes.

Art ide

[0038] In another aspect, there is an article comprising at least two

components, where a portion of a first component is adhesively bonded to a portion of a second component using the electrically conductive adhesive composition, as disclosed hereinabove.

[0039] Any suitable material can be used for the components. In one embodiment, at least one of the at least two components comprises a fiber-reinforced resin composite. The fiber-reinforced resin composite may include a fiber and a binder resin.

[0040] In an embodiment of the fiber-reinforced resin composite, the fiber is a carbon fiber. In another embodiment, the fiber is an electrically conductive sized fiber.

[0041] In yet another embodiment, the fiber-reinforced resin composite comprises carbon fibers ftised with a binder resin.

[0042] The fiber-reinforced resin composites according to the present invention may be formed from and based on any binder resin known in the art.

[00433 Non-limiting examples of a binder resin that is a thermoset (co)poiymer includes unsaturated polyesters, epoxy resins, vinyl ester resins, phenolic resins, thermoset polyurethanes, polyimides, bismaleimide resins, benzoxazine resins, and silicone resins.

[00443 Non-limiting examples of a binder resin that Is a thermoplastic

(co)poiymer includes, polyolefins, cyclic polyolefins, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, thermoplastic polyesters, polyvinyl alcohols, polymethyl methacrylates, styrene maleic anhydrides, poiyoxymethyiene (acetals), thermoplastic polyurethanes, polyethylene terephthalates, polytrimethylene terephthalates, polybutylene terephthalates, polyamides, polycarbonates, polyvinylpyrrolidone, polytetrafluoroethylene, polysulfones, polyethersulfbnes, polyphenylene sulfides, polyetherimides, polyamide-imides, polyetheretherketones, and poiyaryietherketones, including alloys and blends.

[00453 In an embodiment, the fiber-reinforced resin composite is in the form of a pultruded sheet, a fabric, or a prepreg. In another embodiment, the fiber-reinforced resin composite in the form of a pultruded sheet incudes carbon fibers in a planar tow form fused with the binder resin. In yet another embodiment, the fiber-reinforced resin composite in the form of a fabric, with toe fiber being a multidirectional fabric, a unidirectional fabric or a woven fabric.

[00463 In an embodiment, the fiber-reinforced resin composite includes at least one of 20-80% by volume of fiber reinforcement and a vinyl ester resin, 20-80% by volume of fiber reinforcement and a polyester resin or 20-80% by volume of fiber reinforcement and an epoxy resin, where the amount in % by volume is based on the total volume of toe fiber-reinforced resin composite.

[00473 In an embodiment, the fiber-reinforced resin composite is in the form of a pultruded sheet, a resin-infused fabric, a pre-imp regnated tape, or a sheet molding compound. In the pultruded form, toe fiber may be present in an amount in the range of 40-80%, or preferably 60-72%, by volume, based on the total volume of the fiber- reinforced resin composite. In the pultruded form, toe fiber may be present in an amount in the range of 40-80%, or preferably 60-72%, by volume, based on the total volume of the fiber-reinforced resin composite. In the prepreg form, the fiber may be present in an amount in the range of 40-80%, or preferably 54-61%, by volume, based on the total volume of the fiber-reinforced resin composite. In the resin-infused fabric form, the fiber may be present in an amount in the range of 40-80%, or preferably 48- 59%, by volume, based on the total volume of the fiber-reinforced resin composite.

[0048] The fiber-reinforced resin composite may also include any filler and/or particle, known in the art for reinforcing composites, such as polymer composites. Examples of such particles include, but are not limited to, talc, calcium carbonate, aluminum hydroxide, titanium oxides, and silica.

Mitifi

[0049] In an aspect, there is an article comprising at least two components adhesively bonded to each other using the electrically conductive adhesive

composition, where at least one of the at least two components includes the fiber- reinforced resin composite, as disclosed hereinabove.

[0050] FIG. 5 shows a sectional view of a portion of an exemplary article comprising a composite panel, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention. The exemplary composite panel includes two components, a first component adhesively bonded to a second component using the electrically conductive adhesive composition disposed between and in contact with the first component and the second component. In an embodiment, at least one of the two components comprises a fiber- reinforced resin composite.

[0051] FIG. 6 shows a sectional view of a portion of another exemplary article comprising a composite panel comprising a plurality of panels adhesively bonded to each other using the electrically conductive adhesive composition of the present disclosure. As shown in FIG. 6, the exemplary composite panel comprises at least four panels, a first panel is adhesively bonded to a second panel, tire second panel adhesively bonded to a third panel and the third panel adhesively bonded to a fourth panel using the electrically conductive adhesive composition disposed between and in contact with the each panel. In an embodiment, the panels are stacked on top of each other such that at least one edge is slanted and has a slope. In an embodiment, at least one of the plurality of panels comprises a fiber-reinforced resin composite.

[0052] The composite panels of the present invention can have any suitable thickness, such as in the range of 0.5-30 mm.

[0053] In an embodiment, the article is a spar cap including a plurality of fiber- reinforced resin composite sheets adhesively bonded to each other using tire

electrically conductive adhesive composition of the present invention. FIG. 10 shows a schematic sectional diagram of a portion of a spar cap. [0054] FIG. 7 shows an exemplary schematic sectional diagram of a portion of a spar cap, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention. In particular, FIG. 7 shows a configuration of bonded plates in a spar cap.

[0055] FIG. 8 shows another exemplary schematic sectional diagram of a portion of a spar cap, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention. In particular, FIG. 8 shows the use of the conductive adhesive to cover tire end of the chamfer region of one plate and the surrounding surface area of the chamfered plate and the adjoining plate.

[0056] In an embodiment of the spar cap, the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet comprises 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with a vinyl ester resin. In another embodiment of the spar cap, the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet comprises 20-80% by volume of fused with an epoxy resin. In another embodiment of tiie spar cap, the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet comprises 20-80% by volume of fused with a polyester resin. In yet another embodiment of the spar cap, at least one of the plurality of fiber-reinforced resin composite sheets is a pultruded sheet comprising 40-80%, or preferably 60-72%, by volume of fiber, based on the total volume of the fiber-reinforced resin composite.

[0057] In an embodiment, there is an article comprising at least two

components, where a portion of a first component is adhesively bonded to a portion of a second component by an electrically conductive adhesive of the present disclosure.

In an embodiment, the article is a spar cap and the two components form a chamfer region. In another embodiment, tiie article further comprises the electrically conductive adhesive disposed over at least one of the at least two components. In yet another embodiment, the electrically conductive adhesive extends beyond tiie chamfer region onto both surfaces of the adjoining components.

[0058] It is believed that tiie electrical conductivity would be maintained between the adhesively bonded fiber-reinforced resin composite sheets using the conductive adhesive composition of tiie present application, thereby minimizing the arcing phenomenon. The resulting spar cap of tiie present invention will be far more lightning resistant that one without a conductive interlayer between the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheets.

Method of Making a Composite Panei

[0059] In an aspect, there is a method comprising applying the electrically conductive adhesive on a portion of a surface of a first panel; and adhesively bonding a second panel to the first panel, such that the electrically conductive adhesive is disposed between the first and the panel to form a composite panel. Any suitable method can be used for the application of adhesive, Induding but not limited to spray, web coating, wheel or brush coating. The method of application is based on spedfic composition of the electrically conductive adhesive, the nature of the panels and production requirements. The method can further indude curing the composite panel. The curing can be done thermally or photochemically, depending upon the nature of the curative agent present in the adhesive composition. The curing can be done in air, under inert environment or under vacuum.

[0060] In an embodiment, at least one of the first or the second panel comprises a fiber-reinforced resin composite, as disclosed hereinabove.

[0061] In an aspect, the method may further Include forming a fiber-reinforced resin composite in the form of a pultruded sheet or a resin-infused fabric, or a pre- impregnated tape (prepreg, impregnated with a thermoplastic resin or a thermosetting resin), or a sheet molding compound (SMC). In an embodiment, the step of forming a fiber-reinforced resin composite can include arranging a fiber into a fabric and infusing the fabric with a binder resin to form a resin Infused fabric or a prepreg. In another embodiment, the step of forming a fiber-reinforced resin composite can include arranging a fiber into a planar tow form, infusing the planar tow form with a binder resin and puitruding the resin infused planar tow form to form a pultruded sheet.

[0062] In another embodiment, the step of forming a fiber-reinforced resin composite can include arranging a combination of a fiber and a fabric into a structural cross section form, infusing the structural cross section form with a binder resin and puitruding the resin infused section form to result in a pultruded structural section (for example a C-section, J-section, or Pi-section). Figure 14 shows a picture of an exemplary C-section, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

[0063] In another embodiment, the step of forming a fiber- reinforced resin composite can include compounding at least one of a plurality of chopped or a plurality of continuous fibers with a binder resin and compression molding or injection molding tiie resulting composition into an article.

[00643 In another embodiment, the method may include a step of making a composite panel in the form of a spar cap.

[00653 In an embodiment, the electrically conductive adhesive composition of the present invention is suitable for use in the wind blade applications.

[00663 The use of the electrically conductive adhesive composition of the present invention in adhesively bonding at least two components, provides several advantages over conventional adhesives, induding, but not limited to:

• Low cost, as the milled fiber is much less expensive than the nanomaterials, as disdosed in the prior art. The characteristic dimension of nanopartides is not needed for this application and hence would be an unnecessary cost burden.

Furthermore, no spedai precautions must be taken with the powdered form of milled carbon fiber. In contrast, powdered nanomaterials can be considered a hazardous material in some environments.

• Due to their aspect ratio, the milled fibers impart some structural/mechanicai benefit to the adhesive.

• Milled carbon fiber assures perfect compatibility with the carbon plates being bonded.

• Relatively low levels of milled carbon fiber are needed to assure electrical continuity through the thickness of a stack of carbon plates, as shown in FIGS. 7-9.

• For tiie 2-part adhesive, the milled fiber can be premixed into the Part A (resin component), thereby providing to the user a 2 part electrically conductive adhesive. Hence, the user will maintain a common process when mixing and using tiie 2 part electrically conductive adhesive. Additionally, this enables point-of-use mixing with automatic mixing tube applicators.

• For the wind blade manufacturing application, using the two-part adhesives already used provides maintenance of the process familiarity, mechanical bonding properties, and handling characteristics.

• In contrast to all other known approaches, tiie present invention discloses the use of milled carbon fiber as the conductive filler. By using the resulting conductive adhesive in the lamination of procured carbon composites, the electrical

conductivity reduces the flash over of electricity between layers during a lightning strike event in wind turbine blades.

[0067] More specifically, the following represents particular embodiments of the invention:

1. An electrically conductive adhesive composition comprising:

a) milled carbon fibers dispersed in a thermosetting resin; and

b) a curative agent.

2. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to embodiment 1, wherein the thermosetting resin Is an epoxide resin.

3. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to embodiments 1 or 2, wherein the curative agent comprises an amine functional group.

4. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of the preceding embodiments, wherein the thermosetting resin comprises at least one of epoxy resin, vinyl ester resins, phenolic resins, unsaturated polyesters, thermoset polyurethanes, polyimides, bismaieimide resins, benzoxazine resins, silicone resins, and any combination, copolymer, and/or derivative thereof.

5. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of the preceding embodiments, wherein the milled carbon fibers are present in an amount in the range of 1 to 20 weight%, based on the total weight of the electrically conductive adhesive composition

6. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of the preceding embodiments, wherein the milled carbon fibers have an average diameter in the range of 5 to 10 microns and an average length in the range of 1 to 300 microns,

7. The electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of the preceding embodiments, wherein toe adhesive composition has a linear conductivity in the range of 10 14 - 10 10 siemens/cm.

8. The electrically conductive adhesive composition of according to any one of the preceding embodiments, wherein the milled carbon fibers are free of sizing.

9. The electrically conductive adhesive composition of according to any one of the preceding embodiments, wherein toe milled carbon fibers are pristine or recycled milled carbon fibers, free of sizing.

10. An article comprising at least two components, where a portion of a first

component is adhesively bonded to a portion of a second component using the electrically conductive adhesive composition according to any one of the embodiments 1-9.

11. The article according to embodiment 10, wherein at least one of the at least two components comprises a fiber-reinforced resin composite.

12. The article according to embodiment 11, wherein toe fiber-reinforced resin

composite comprises carbon fibers fused with a binder resin.

13. The article according to embodiment 10, wherein at least one of the at least two components is in toe form of a pultruded sheet, a resin-infused fabric, a preimpregnated tape, or a sheet molding compound.

14. The article according to embodiment 12, wherein the pultruded sheet comprises carbon fibers in a planar tow form fused with a binder resin.

15. The article according to embodiment 12, wherein toe binder resin comprises a thermosetting binder resin chosen from among unsaturated polyesters, epoxy resins, vinyl ester resins, phenolic resins, thermoset polyurethanes, polyimides, bisma!eimide resins, benzoxazine resins, and silicone resins.

16. The article according to embodiment 12, wherein toe binder resin comprises a thermoplastic binder resin chosen from among polyolefins, cyclic polyolefins, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, thermoplastic polyesters, polyvinyl alcohols, polymethyl methacrylates, styrene maleic anhydrides, polyoxymethylene (acetals), thermoplastic polyurethanes, polyethylene terephthaiates, polytrimethylene terephthaiates, polybutylene terephthaiates, polyamides, polycarbonates, polyvinylpyrrolidone, polytetrafluoroethylene, polysulfones, polyethersulfones, polyphenylene sulfides, polyetherimides, polyamide-imides, polyetheretherketones, and

poiyaryietherketones, including alloys and blends.

17. The article according to any one of embodiments 13, wherein the fabric

comprises a multidirectional fabric, a unidirectional fabric or a woven fabric.

18. The article according to embodiment 13, wherein the puitruded sheet comprises at least one of:

a) 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with a vinyl ester resin, or b) 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with an epoxy resin,

wherein the amount in % by volume is based on the total volume of the fiber- reinforced resin composite.

19. A spar cap comprising a plurality of fiber-reinfbrced resin composite sheets

adhesively bonded to each other using the adhesive composition according to any one of the embodiments 1-9,

wherein each fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet comprises 50 to 80 % by volume of carbon fibers fused with a binder resin, wherein the amount in % by volume is based on the total volume of the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet.

20. The spar cap according to embodiment 19, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet comprises 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with a vinyl ester resin.

21. The spar cap according to embodiment 19, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite sheet comprises 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with an epoxy resin.

22. A method comprising:

a) dispersing milled carbon fibers in a thermosetting resin to form a mixture; and

b) adding a curative agent to the mixture and optionally curing to form an electrically conductive adhesive.

23. The method according to embodiment 22 wherein the step of dispersing milled carbon fibers in a thermosetting resin to form a mixture is done mechanically.

24. The method according to embodiment 23, wherein the step of adding a curative agent to toe mixture further comprises mixing under vacuum.

25.1116 method according to according to any one of the embodiments 22-24,

further comprising:

a) applying the electrically conductive adhesive on a portion of a surface of a first component; and b) adhesively bonding a second component to the first component, such that the electrically conductive adhesive is disposed between the first and the components to form a composite panel.

26. The method according to embodiment 25, wherein at least one of the first or the second components comprises a fiber-reinforced resin composite.

27.1116 method according to embodiment 26, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite comprises carbon fibers fused with a binder resin.

28. Hie method according to embodiment 26, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite is in the form of a puitruded sheet, a resin-infused fabric, a preimpregnated tape, or a sheet molding compound.

29. Hie method according to embodiment 28, wherein the puitruded sheet

comprises carbon fibers in a planar tow form fused with a binder resin.

30. Hie method according to embodiment 27, wherein the binder resin comprises a thermosetting binder resin chosen from among unsaturated polyesters, epoxy resins, vinyl ester resins, phenolic resins, thermoset polyurethanes, polyimides, bismaieimide resins, benzoxazine resins, and silicone resins.

31. Hie method according to embodiment 27, wherein the binder resin comprises a thermoplastic binder resin chosen from among polyolefins, cyclic polyolefins, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, thermoplastic polyesters, polyvinyl alcohols, polymethyl methacrylates, styrene maleic anhydrides, polyoxymethylene (acetals), thermoplastic polyurethanes, polyethylene terephtha!ates, polytrimethylene terephtha!ates, polybutylene terephthalates, polyamides, polycarbonates, polyvinylpyrrolidone,

polytetrafluoroethylene, polysulfones, polyethersulfones, polyphenylene sulfides, polyetherimides, polyamide-imides, polyetheretherketones, and

po!yary!etherketones, including alloys and blends.

32. The method according to embodiment 28, wherein the fabric comprises a

multidirectional fabric, a unidirectional fabric or a woven fabric.

33. The method according to embodiment 28, wherein the puitruded sheet

comprises 20-80% by volume carbon fibers, based on the total volume of the fiber-reinforced resin composite.

34. Hie method according to embodiment 28, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite is in a form of a puitruded sheet comprising 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with a vinyl ester resin.

35. Hie method according to embodiment 28, wherein the fiber-reinforced resin composite is in a form of a puitruded sheet comprising 20-80% by volume of carbon fibers fused with an epoxy resin. 36. The method according to any one of the embodiments 25-35, wherein the composite panel is in the form of a spar cap.

37. An article comprising at least two components, where a portion of a first

component is adhesively bonded to a portion of a second component by an electrically conductive adhesive according to any one of the embodiments 1-9.

38. The article of claim 37 wherein the article is a spar cap and wherein the two components forms a chamfer region.

39. The article according to embodiment 37, further comprising the electrically

conductive adhesive disposed over at least one of the at least two components.

40. The article according to embodiment 38, and wherein the electrically conductive adhesive extends beyond the chamfer region onto both surfaces of the adjoining components.

[0068] The invention will be further explained by the following Examples, which are intended to be purely exemplary of the invention, and should not be considered as limiting the invention in any way.

EXAMPLES

Materials used:

[0069] Thermosetting epoxy resin available as Sikadur WTG-1280 (Part A) and curative agent available as Sikadur WTG-1050 (Part B), were obtained from Sika Corporation. ZOLTEK PX35 MF200 milled fibers (~5//m to 150pm in length by ~7pm in diameter) were obtained from Zoitek Corporation. All materials were used as is.

Pultruded profiles used:

[0070] Profiles of pultruded sheet used in the examples below:

• 62% Fiber Volume Fraction (FVF) carbon fiber with 38% Vinyl ester

• 72% FVF carbon fiber with 28% Epoxy resin

Testing Methods:

[0071] Volume (through-thickness) electrical conductivity can be determined from electrical resistance per ANSI ANSI/ESD STM 11.12, using a PROSTAT* PRS-801 Resistance System or similar instrument and PROSTAT PRF-911 Concentric Ring or similar apparatus, as shown in FIG. 9.

Baric Process:

[0072] Step 1: Method of Making an Electrically Conductive Adhesive as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2

[00733 Milled carbon fibers (PX35 MF200) were mixed into a thermosetting epoxy resin (Part A, Sikadur WTG-1280) of the two part adhesive. The milled carbon fibers were added in various amounts in the range of 2-37.5 weight%, based on the total weight of the adhesive composition. The mixing was done until the two

components were thoroughly combined to form a uniform mixture. Then, the curative agent/hardener portion (Part B, Sikadur WTG-1050) was added to the Part A/milled fiber mixture in a 50:50 ratio, according to die manufacturer's instructions, and mixed until thoroughly combined to form an electrically conductive adhesive.

[0074] As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the step of mixing of the Part A/milled fiber mixture with Part B can be done in air or partially under vacuum. FIG. 3 shows the difference between when the mixing is done in air versus when the step of mixing of the Part A/milled fiber mixture with Part B was done under vacuum. As is clear from FIG. 3, the mixing under vacuum provides certain advantages over when carried out in air, such as uniform mixing and no air bubbles. Air bubbles can be detrimental to attaining a thin uniform layer of adhesive over a panel.

[0075]

[0076] A puitruded composite panel was formed by first applying the fully mixed electrically conductive adhesive as a thin even layer on one side of one of a first pu!truded plates (62% Vf Vinyl ester or 72% Vf Epoxy resin), as shown in FIG. 4.

Then, the second puitruded plate is placed on top of the adhesive layer of the first pu!truded plate to form a bonded stack of pu!trude composite panel, as shown in FIG.

5.

[0077] This process of applying a thin lay»· of electrically conductive adhesive and adding subsequent plates to form a bonded stack of puitruded composite panel can be continued for as many panels as desired, as shown in FIG. 6.

[00783 The bonded stack of puitruded composite panels was cured under vacuum at the adhesive supplier's recommended cure cycle of curing under vacuum at 70°C for 5 hours.

[0079] Electrical conductivity testing was performed on composite panels to confirm dramatic improvement in conductivity through the thickness of the stack, as shown in FIGS. 10-12.

[0080] FIG. 10 shows a graph showing through-thickness electrical conductivity of a composite panel comprising two puitruded sheets adhesively bonded by the electrically conductive adhesive of the present Invention made by two different mixing methods (regular mixing versus mixing done using a Resodyn LabRam model

ResonantAcoustic* Mixer (RAM)), as a function of filler content, wherein each puitruded sheet comprises 62% by volume of carbon fiber fused with a vinyl ester resin. As can be seen in FIG. 10, the electrical conductivity of composite panel formed using

ResonantAcoustic* mixer had lower conductivity as compared to one done in air, even though the mixing under vacuum resulted in uniform mixture with no air bubbles. This discrepancy was due to a portion of part B being stuck on the walls of the LabRam mixer resulting in an amount ratio of curative agent/hardener portion (Part B, Sikadur WTG-1050) to the Part A/milled fiber mixture different from supplier suggested 50:50 ratio.

[0081] FIG. 11 shows a graph showing through-thickness electrical conductivity of a composite panel comprising two puitruded sheets adhesively bonded by the electrically conductive adhesive of the present disclosure, as a function of filler content, where each puitruded sheet comprises 62% by volume of carbon fiber.

[0082] FIG. 12 shows a graph showing through-thickness electrical conductivity of a composite panel comprising two puitruded sheets adhesively bonded by the electrically conductive adhesive of the various embodiments of the present disclosure, made by two different mixing methods, as a function of filler content, wherein each puitruded sheet comprises 72% by volume of carbon fiber fused with an epoxy resin.

[0083] FIGS. 11 and 12 shows that irrespective of the composition of fiber- reinforced composite, the adhesive composition provided a surprising and dramatic increase in the electrical conductivity measured through stack, as compared to neat adhesive and reaches close to that of single panel (single profile).

[0084] FIG. 13 compares the effect of using the conductive adhesive to chamfer region of two plates. The first panel in the FIG. 13 shows the results of a non- conductive joint when struck by electrical energy. Hie energy arcs from both the nearby surface of one plate (a) to the nearby surface of the second plate (b) and through die non-conductive adhesive layer itself.

[0085] The second panel in the FIG. 13 shows the results of die same electrical strike in a conductively bonded joint. In this panel, die electricity arcs using only one path only from nearby surface to nearby surface of the two plates. As shown In FIG. 13, the conductive joint shows no damage from die strike. A method of applying die conductive adhesive to the surface area of each plate adjacent to the joint and the chamfer will reduce the potential for arcing near the joint.

[0086] It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the practice of the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. Other embodiments of the Invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention. It is intended that die specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope and spirit of the invention being indicated by the following claims.