Environment

Old wind turbine blades may find use in "green" stand-up paddleboards

Old wind turbine blades may fi...
The sustainable paddleboard's foam core is made of balsa wood harvested from discarded wind turbine blades
The sustainable paddleboard's foam core is made of balsa wood harvested from discarded wind turbine blades
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The board's shell is made of woven flax fibers impregnated with a completely bio-based polymer
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The board's shell is made of woven flax fibers impregnated with a completely bio-based polymer
Christoph Pöhler with a piece of former wind turbine rotor blade in Fraunhofer's wood workshop
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Christoph Pöhler with a piece of former wind turbine rotor blade in Fraunhofer's wood workshop
The sustainable paddleboard's foam core is made of balsa wood harvested from discarded wind turbine blades
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The sustainable paddleboard's foam core is made of balsa wood harvested from discarded wind turbine blades
Christoph Pöhler works on the design of the paddleboard
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Christoph Pöhler works on the design of the paddleboard
A working example of the paddleboard may be ready to go by the end of 2022
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A working example of the paddleboard may be ready to go by the end of 2022
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Although stand-up paddleboards are very eco-friendly to use, they're typically made of not-so-green substances. German scientists are trying to change that, with a board made entirely of sustainable materials – obtained partially from old wind turbine blades.

Ordinarily, stand-up paddleboards consist of a petroleum-based polystyrene foam core, surrounded by a composite shell containing non-renewable materials such as epoxy resin, polyester resin or polyurethane. Typically, it is quite difficult to separate such substances from one another for recycling.

Led by Christoph Pöhler, scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research have teamed up with colleagues from the Technische Universität Braunschweig to create a more environmentally friendly alternative.

A working example of the paddleboard may be ready to go by the end of 2022
A working example of the paddleboard may be ready to go by the end of 2022

At the heart of the new board is a lightweight foam made of balsa wood harvested from the cores of discarded wind turbine blades. After a hammer mill is used to separate chunks of the wood from the blades' surrounding glass-fiber reinforced plastic shell, that wood is finely ground, mixed with water to form "a kind of cake batter," then processed into a firm yet lightweight foam that holds together without the need for any added adhesives.

Hand lay-up and vacuum infusion processes are then used to sandwich that core inside a rigid watertight shell, which is made of woven flax fibers combined with a completely bio-based polymer.

It is hoped that a finished board will be ready for demonstration by the end of next year. If the technology proves successful, it could conceivably also make its way into the construction of things like buildings, ships and automobiles.

As an interesting side note, Global Surf Industries already incorporates waste coconut husk fibers into its paddleboards and surfboards, the result being that less epoxy resin is required in their fabrication.

Source: Fraunhofer

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Lamar Havard
Great! Now if a company can be found to recycle the fiberglass, by pyrolysis, into pyro-gas, pyro-oil, and a by-product that is solid, these three substances are recoverable. Pyro gas is similar to natural gas in its energy content and pyro oil has similarities to heavy crude oil. Or, since it contains polyester, it can be burned as an energy source in the cement manufacturing process, or some other industry. - From the site: 'Can You Throw It Away'