The new technology, brought together by a group of several companies and scientific institutes will result in a process to manufacture turbines with no waste.
The project was carried out within the framework of the CETEC initiative (Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites) – a process overseen by Vestas, chemical producer Olin, the world-leading producer of epoxy resins, the Danish Technological Institute (DTI), and Aarhus University.
According to data from the University of Cambridge, turbine blades will make up 43million tonnes of waste per year by 2050 and most of it will end up in landfills because of difficulties with disposal.
Wind turbines can undergo recycling of 85-90 % — it is composite material from the blades that cannot be recycled. Blades are made by heating a mixture of glass or carbon fibres and epoxy resin needed to make the composite material – which is both light and durable but very difficult to recycle.
The technology allows the glass or carbon fibres to be separated from the resin and subsequently, with the help of chemical substances enables the resin to be separated from the blade’s main materials. The materials produced can then be made into a new blade, Vestas said.
“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,” said Allan Korsgaard Poulsen, Head of Sustainability and Advanced Materials, Vestas Innovation and Concepts.
Vestas has committed itself to zero waste production for its machinery by 2040, with this technology due to become used In mass production within three years. It can also be used for aircraft and car components.