Vestas, the wind turbine maker has unveiled a new technology which enables wind turbine blades to be fully recycled. This is to avoid the dumping of old blades says the company.
According to a 2017 University of Cambridge study, turbine blades are set to account for 43 million tonnes of waste in 2050. As the blades are hard to recycle, they end up in landfills.
Allan Poulsen, Vestas head of sustainability and advanced materials, said in a statement that the new technology will be a significant milestone in enabling a future where landfill is no longer required in blade decommissioning.
Turbine blades are made by heating a mix of glass or carbon fibres and sticky epoxy resin, which combines the materials, providing a strong light-weight composite material, but which also make it hard to separate the original materials for recycling. But this new technology separates the glass or carbon fibre from the resin. Then chemicals further separate the resin into base materials. Vestas said that these are similar to virgin materials that can then be used for construction of new blades.
The project is a co-operation between Vestas; chemical producer Olin, which produces resin for turbine blades; the Danish Technological Institute, an independent research and technology institute; and Denmark’s Aarhus University. This project aims to develop the technology for industrial scale production. It also sees potential for the technology to be used for airplane and car components.