By Bob Geiger
Dolan Media Newswires
Minneapolis — Two years after 3M Co. formed its Renewable Energy Division, the industrial giant is poised to strengthen its low-key presence in wind construction after acquiring Nida-Core Corp. of Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Terms were not disclosed for the deal, which broadens 3M’s product base to include Nida-Core’s NidaFusion and BalsaLite products, which 3M can sell to manufacturers of wind turbines.
Donna Flemming Runyon, a spokeswoman for 3M, said the company believes NidaFusion, a lightweight fiberglass-reinforced foam core, is “well-positioned to replace PVC-based materials in wind construction.”
Another Nida-Core product, BalsaLite, is made of balsa wood and could be attractive to wind energy developers as a durable, lightweight wind blade.
Dan Juhl, chairman and chief executive of Woodstock-based Juhl Wind, said it would be “mind-boggling” if 3M and Nida-Core produce a lightweight core for wind turbine blades because anything that lowers the weight, and thus the production cost, of turbine blades would have a major effect on the industry.
Each blade on a typical large wind turbine weighs 10,000 pounds, Juhl said. His public company specializes in developing small- to mid-sized wind farms.
The NidaFusion flexible foam core forms a truss network, much like steel beams supporting a bridge. A durable, closed-mold exterior seals the lighter-weight core of the wind turbine blade.
Nida-Core President Damien Jacquinet plans to stay on in the same position with Nida-Core, a 25-employee company. Jacquinet did not immediately return phone calls for further comment on the 3M acquisition.
The deal also paves the way for 3M’s planned acquisition of Structiso SARL, a three-person firm in Aniche, France, that is affiliated with Nida-Core. Structiso also specializes in materials sold to the wind energy industry.
That purchase is expected to be completed early in the second quarter.
3M Renewable Energy also produces 3M Wind Tape, which protects the leading edge of wind turbine blades with an 8-inch-wide polyurethane barrier. That tape is similar to another 3M tape that protects the leading edge of helicopter blades.
3M maintains a low profile in the wind industry. The company sells design and manufacturing, maintenance and repair, electrical materials and safety materials to wind energy developers.
While NidaFusion and BalsaLite provide lighter-weight cores for wind blades, Juhl cautioned that a lightweight blade has to be carefully designed to generate sufficient energy from wind turbines.