Environment

Self-curing resin may make wind turbines more eco-friendly

Self-curing resin may make win...
A new thermoplastic resin could make it possible to more fully recycle wind turbine blades, and to manufacture them using less energy
A new thermoplastic resin could make it possible to more fully recycle wind turbine blades, and to manufacture them using less energy
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A new thermoplastic resin could make it possible to more fully recycle wind turbine blades, and to manufacture them using less energy
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A new thermoplastic resin could make it possible to more fully recycle wind turbine blades, and to manufacture them using less energy

Although wind turbines may seem like the epitome of "green" energy, scientists from Vanderbilt University are working on making them even greener. More specifically, they're looking at a resin that could save energy when turbine blades are being created, and that might make those blades more recyclable.

Currently, the resin that's used in the production of fiberglass turbine blades has to be heated in order to cure, and that requires energy that doesn't necessarily come from green sources. Additionally, once those blades finally wear out, very little of the material that they're made out of can be recycled.

Now, however, a Vanderbilt team led by Prof. Doug Adams is experimenting with a new type of thermoplastic resin known as Elium. Made by industry partner Arkema, it creates its own heat through a chemical reaction, and proceeds to cure without creating flaws in the fiberglass. It's also possible to melt down the resin long after it's cured, allowing the glass fibers to be reclaimed for reuse.

The researchers are now planning on scaling up the process, moving from relatively small samples to full-size blades.

Source: Vanderbilt University

2 comments
Bob Stuart
Please look up the difference between thermosetting and thermoplastic resins. The source of heat is not significant, and added heat to aid curing is mainly an economical convenience.
Martin Hone
Generally, resins used for FRP -such as epoxy, vinyl-ester and polyester - are 2-part and when mixed create their own heat. What the current manufacturing process is for turbine blades is isn't explained but heat is always involved.