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August 31, 2023
5 min read time

How Thermoplastics & Composites Keep the Lights On



Cityscape of Houston, Texas, featuring a blend of energy industry structures and solar panels, symbolizing the integration of thermoplastics and composites in modern sustainable energy solutions.

What Do Plastics Have To Do With Energy Production?

Plastics Manufacturing has some very natural industry associations: aerospace, semiconductors, medical, and construction – just to name a few. But what some don’t naturally think of as a critical industry for plastics is energy production. The energy sector – both renewable and nonrenewable – relies heavily on high-performance plastics to increase efficiency and lower overhead costs. Thermoplastics and composites have played a particularly significant role in recent years as the worldwide energy sector has pushed for better renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure. For now, though, our products remain critical to ensuring a fully working energy grid, no matter the source, and we’re proud to work with industry leaders in all energy production sectors.

A Role for Plastics in Renewable Energy? 

As the global energy sector works to find sustainable solutions for energy production, high-performance plastics are emerging as critical components of renewable energy infrastructure

The most challenging logistical issue of relying on renewable energy has arguably been the weak return on investment of production cost to energy output. For a long time, renewable energy sources just haven’t been able to compete with the comparatively low cost of fossil fuels.

Today that is beginning to change. While fossil fuel productivity has somewhat plateaued, energy from solar, wind, and hydroelectric power is showing net positive gains.

As renewable energy progresses against fossil fuels, its infrastructure will continue to rely on high-performance thermoplastics and composites.

Thermoplastics in Renewable Energy

Thermoplastics are commonly used to create polymer composites, a process by which synthetic polymers are reinforced by adding common thermoplastics, like polypropylene or polyether ether ketone (among others). While polymer composites are often used in construction in place of steel or concrete, they also have an equally important role in renewable energy. 

Thermoplastic-enhanced polymer composites can withstand environmental conditions that wear on renewable energy sources like wind turbines and solar panels. They can weather temperature fluctuations and operational demands, and polymer composites can also resist corrosion and strengthen their apparatuses. 

Composites in Solar Energy

Polymer composites have been critical in optimizing solar tracker systems, which work to rotate solar panels as the sun’s angle changes. The biggest challenge in solar tracking has been improving the ratio of energy expended (to rotate the panels) to the efficiency gained by the rotation itself. Solar tracking bearings made from high-performance polymers have helped to keep overhead costs low by offering a low-friction capability with the added benefit of UV resistance and a lightweight profile.

Composites in Wind Turbines

Wind Turbines also rely on tracking systems to adjust the angle of the turbine for optimal energy production. Because any friction in a turbine’s system results in a net energy loss, turbine manufacturers have turned to bearings made from the polymer composite PTFE. This self-lubricating material significantly reduces the need for regular maintenance. While PTFE costs are generally more expensive, its reliability and efficiency make it a critical material in renewable wind energy. 

Composites in Electric Vehicles

As the demand for electric vehicles grows, so does the need for reliable charging infrastructure. Cities across the globe are investing in EV charging stations, which need to be optimized for performance to charge many vehicles sufficiently. Once again, the polymer composite PTFE has gained popularity in renewable energy manufacturing, this time for its ability to improve charging efficiency and minimize current leakage. 

Thermoplastics in Oil & Gas Production

The improved efficiency of thermoplastics and polymer composites isn’t limited to renewable sources. Our products increase the efficiency and output of traditional energy sources, like oil and gas production. The advantages of using our range of high-performing plastics over traditional metal-based parts include corrosion and weather resistance, improved thermal and electrical insulation, and reduced friction

By utilizing thermoplastics like PFTE and PEEK and composites like PBT, Nylons, and Noryl (PPE) plastics, manufacturing has improved energy production for topside, subsea, and downhole applications, plus pipeline transportation

We are proud to have kept pace with innovations in oil and gas production by optimizing our industry's production and uses of high-performing materials, including incredibly durable bronze-filled nylon. We’d love to discuss our wide range of products for oil and gas, including perforating guns, triggers, couplings, instrument housings, risers and tethers, seals, packers, thread protectors, and guides.

Our Commitment to Energy Production

At Houston Plastic Products, we are committed to driving energy production forward. Our thermoplastics and composites are manufactured for high performance, longer life, and cost-effectiveness. We strive to exceed quality standards for all energy sectors and to deliver exceptional products with state-of-the-art materials. When safety, uptime, and performance are critical, trust Houston Plastic Products to deliver. 

From bearings to battery casings and everything in between, we are proud to be a top manufacturer of reliable energy components. Get a quote today to discover why we are reliability molded. 

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