Energy

GE produces world's largest recyclable wind turbine blade

GE produces world's largest re...
The Zero Waste Blade Research (ZEBRA) Project has produced the world's largest recyclable wind turbine blade
The Zero Waste Blade Research (ZEBRA) Project has produced the world's largest recyclable wind turbine blade
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GE's new thermoplastic blade is 100 percent recyclable and is said to deliver a similar level of performance to thermoset blades
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GE's new thermoplastic blade is 100 percent recyclable and is said to deliver a similar level of performance to thermoset blades
The Zero Waste Blade Research (ZEBRA) Project has produced the world's largest recyclable wind turbine blade
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The Zero Waste Blade Research (ZEBRA) Project has produced the world's largest recyclable wind turbine blade
GE's 62-meter (203-ft) prototype recyclable blade is made with Elium resin from materials company Arkema
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GE's 62-meter (203-ft) prototype recyclable blade is made with Elium resin from materials company Arkema
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Through its massive wind turbines and innovative offshore designs, GE continues sharpening its toolkit in a bid to built the future of sustainable energy, and a newly unveiled turbine blade shows how that can extend to the materials used. A consortium led by the company has manufactured the world's largest thermoplastic blade, designed to serve as full-scale example of a fully recyclable wind turbine blade.

Wind energy has become an important pillar in our fossil fuel-free future, but that doesn't mean it comes without environmental concerns of its own. The thermoset composites making up today's turbine blades cannot be recycled, and one University of Cambridge study suggests that there will be 43 million tonnes of blade waste around the world by 2050. The Zero Waste Blade Research (ZEBRA) Project is working on more sustainable materials in the form of thermoplastic composites.

The 62-meter (203-ft) prototype blade is made with Elium resin from materials company Arkema, which is a glass-fiber reinforced thermoplastic. Not only is the material 100 percent recyclable, it is said to deliver a similar level of performance to thermoset resins that are favored for their lightweight and durability.

Through a chemical recycling method, the material can be depolymerized and turned into a new virgin resin for re-use, acting as a proof-of-concept for a circular economy loop for the wind energy sector. Before that happens, in the coming weeks LM Wind Power will start full-scale structural testing to verify the blade's performance. It will then verify these advanced recycling methods later in the year, while also working on ways of recycling production waste.

“With this project we are addressing two crucial industry challenges," said John Korsgaard, Senior Director, Engineering Excellence, LM Wind Power. "On one hand, we are progressing on our Zero Waste Blades vision by preventing and recycling manufacturing waste. On the other, we are taking blade recyclability to a new level: the end-of-life thermoplastic composite blade material has high value in itself and can be readily utilized in other industries as material compounds but can also be depolymerized and the resin reused in the production of new blades."

Source: GE

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6 comments
6 comments
Snerdguy
That's fine that they have demonstrated a way to make recyclable wind turbine blades. But, it still needs a real world test over time and it's not likely that manufacturers are going to completely dispose of the current process and invest in this new material any time soon. So, it really isn't going to solve the greater problem. There will eventually be a massive number of these turbine blades to dispose of and methods for recycling them need to be developed. I have heard of people using the blades as structural components in bridges because they are strong and long lasting.
Robert Kowalski
Why nitpicking about turbine blade waste is so popular nowadays? Alternative is burning much more coal for everyone to breathe in, storing used blade somewhere seem harmless in comparison.
jerryd
As one in composites that is going to be one nasty mess. And they lie they can't be recycled now. Besides turning them into chemicals and insulation, glass they could be used to make buildings, homes, boats, silos, tanks, stadiums, public housing, park shelters fences, barns, refugee housing, etc.
Since they are insulated core panels, they make great building materials and so big, just cut the size you need for each wall, roof, etc.
Just let it be known they are free and cut to length needed for moving and lots would be reused, far higher form of recycling saving large amounts of concrete, wood, etc.
While large WTs are needed now in the long run power will be made locally in homes, buildings, businesses and storage there, EVs all generating on demand, more than they need really running a lot of utility scale power out of business. And after they get rid of FFs they are coming for utility scale RE.
Signguy
Pork barrel; there are much more efficient ways to produce power; these are a "giant" waste of materials & time.
...and getting RID of them is another story...
Eddy
Why do so many blades need to be recycled or dumped, do they suffer from stress fractures or fatigue in use which renders them unsafe eventually needing replacement.
Robin
Are there people, apart from those who have a business with wind turbines, who still think that replacing earth with concrete is a solution that needs gas or coal when there is no wind? we need controllable production solutions.... Nuclear, geothermal energy, step, dam....