Germany – Process technology firm AU+T Chemnitz of Germany has developed a method of recycling disused rotor blades from the wind power industry. During the two-stage process, rotor blades are pre-shredded and then fed into a 43-tonne cross-flow Diabolo shredder which compounds and crushes the input material to form homogeneous grits. Metals are then separated from non-metallics by means of magnetic separators while fine dust from the rotor blades is extracted by suction.
Until now, says the firm, there has not been a suitable process that enables the environmentally-friendly disposal of rotor blades. Their landfilling has been banned in Germany since 2005 while incineration of these wind turbine components is highly problematical simply because of their size; today’s rotor blades have a standard length of 46 metres and can weigh up to 10 tonnes.
Mirko Winter, General Manager of AU+T, comments: ‘The material would definitely have to be cut down before it can be incinerated.’ But the incineration route remains impractical, he adds, due to the lack of suitable tools, the high degree of material wear, and health and safety issues relating to dust released during the cutting process.