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PET bottles find second life in wind turbine rotor blades

Canada – Insulation foams producer Armacell has started up an extrusion line at its Brampton facility in Ontario, Canada, to convert recycled PET resin into PET foam for use in the production of wind turbine rotor blades.

Around 75% of Armacell’s PET foam is used as the core for the blades, with some 50 000 PET bottles converted to form the core of a single wind turbine.

Armacell estimates that its ArmaForm PET is already used in more than 30 000 rotor blades globally. Armacell has spent around US$ 6.5 million on the project at its Brampton plant.

Claimed to be the first of its kind in Canada, the new line joins similar Armacell PET foam extrusion lines in Belgium and the USA.

‘The expansion of our PET manufacturing footprint into Canada delivers on our overall business strategy to enhance Armacell’s international presence,’ comments ceo Patrick Mathieu. The installation at Brampton follows Armacell’s announcement in February that it will install a PET foam line in China and launch production by the end of 2018.

According to Armacell, whose global sales rose 3.4% last year to approaching US$ 610 million, the next largest markets for its PET foam are transportation and construction, followed by marine and a range of industrial and commercial applications.

The company claims its foaming process reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 33% when compared with standard PET foaming using virgin resin.

The process generates ‘52% less CO2 than PVC foam and 62% less than polyurethane foam’, it contends. Armacell runs six manufacturing operations in the USA where it employs more than 550 people.

The Canadian operation, acquired in 2015 when Armacell bought Industrial Thermo Polymers, provides employment for around 100 people and has been running two low-density polyethylene foam lines.

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