17 January 2017

Recycling wind turbine blades

It's not easy -
Unfortunately, one of the largest components of a wind turbine —the blades— are completely unrecyclable.

Turbine blades are made from glass or carbon-fiber composites. These materials are strong, lightweight and has a significant aerodynamic advantage, but they are nearly impossible to recycle. Hence, at the end of their lifecycle, most of these blades end up as waste on landfills. According to one estimate, there will be 50,000 tons of blade waste in 2020, which will rise to more than 200,000 tons by 2034.

The current scenario is grim. There is only one industrial enterprise that recycles end-of-life turbine blades, and that’s in Melbeck, in northern Germany...

In 2007, the Rotterdam municipality unveiled a playground for Kinderparadijs Meidoorn built out of rotor blades that were originally destined for landfills...
The city also has public seating at the Willemsplein square where nine intact rotor blades were placed at various angles to create ergonomic public seating with a diversity of seating options...
The rest of the story is at Amusing Planet.

Photo credit: Denis Guzzo/Flickr

1 comment:

  1. The issue appears to be the use of fiberglas instead of carbon composites. Carbon fibers used in wind turbine blades can be recycled and reused, just as carbon fibers used in carbon fiber composites are recycled and reused from other industries. Indeed, carbon fiber composites used for wind turbines are a very minor part of the global carbon fiber composite industry.

    The process is to heat the carbon fiber composite to 400-600 C which burns off the epoxy resin used, leaving the fibers. The fibers can then be reused -- they aren't as long as the originally made ones, but are suitable for a variety of industrial uses. The energy to do this is about 5% of the initial energy to make the carbon fibers, so its definitely a recycling process, not remanufacturing.

    Here's a company doing that...

    So I wouldn't say that wind turbine blades are "Nearly impossible to recycle" -- some definitely are very recyclable. But the article seems to be written to promote a public art company, which makes these public sculptures.


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