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.
“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.