New blade recycling technology tipped to end wind power waste

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V112 installation, Macarthur Windfarm, Australia

Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas and its coalition of industry and academic partners have developed a novel technology that enables recycling of thermoset composites, the material used to make wind turbine blades.

Developed by DreamWind – an innovation initiative driven by Vestas, global epoxy resin manufacturer Olin, the Danish Technological Institute (DTI), and Aarhus University – the new technology delivers the final technological step on the journey towards a fully recyclable wind turbine value chain.

Wind turbines are 85-90% recyclable, with turbine blade material constituting the remaining percentage that cannot be recycled, due to the nature of thermoset composites.

Vestas said the new technology, which consists of a two-step process, will close this recycling gap, creating the possibility to introduce new recycling solutions to the wind industry.

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“Firstly, thermoset composites are disassembled into fibre and epoxy,” the company said in a statement.

“Secondly, through a novel chemcycling process, the epoxy is further broken up into base components similar to virgin materials.

“These materials can then be reintroduced into the manufacturing of new turbine blades, constituting a new circularity pathway for epoxy resin.”

To enable the adoption of this new technology, Vestas and its partners have established a new initiative entitled CETEC (Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites).

Allan Korsgaard Poulsen, Head of Sustainability and Advanced Materials, Vestas Innovation and Concepts, said CETEC is aiming to present a fully scoped solution ready for industrial adoption within three years.

“Leveraging this new technological breakthrough in chemcycling epoxy resin, the CETEC project will be a significant milestone in Vestas’ journey towards achieving this goal, and in enabling a future where landfill is no longer required in blade decommissioning,” Mr Poulsen concluded.

Image credit: https://www.vestas.com/en/media/images#!
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