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Another step closer to fully recyclable wind turbines

There is a growing focus on wind energy, though recycling the blades of wind turbines still presents a challenge. A consortium of international tech companies is now developing blades that are 100% recyclable.

French chemicals company Arkema Group is participating in the Zero wastE Blade ReseArch “ZEBRA” R&D project by providing its innovative product Elium; a thermoplastic resin that has already been successfully integrated into various carbon fibre applications. Elium’s thermoplastic nature makes it easy to recycle the material, Arkema says. Today, roughly 85% of a wind turbine can be recycled, though it isn’t commercially feasible at industrial-scale.

That’s why Arkema is working together with industry players like blade manufacturer LM Wind Power to create a fully recyclable 80-metre prototype wind turbine blade within the by 2023.  The EUR 18.5 million R&D mission is being led by French research centre IRT Jules Verne, with support from polymer company Canoe, energy company Engie as well as glass fibre and composites producer Owens Corning.

Arkema has been awarded the 2020 Pierre Potier prize for its renewable thermoplastic for use in wind turbines. It was also recently ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the 11th most sustainably managed companies in the world.

Elium is said to have ‘excellent durability characteristics’. While it is created using similar processes responsible for the production of other liquid epoxy resins, its energy consumption requirements are much lower because this new type of resin does not require mould heating or the heating of components during assembly.

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