“A team of Danish technology companies and universities aims to present a way to commercialise their solution within three years.
Vestas and a team of epoxy producers and academic institutions have developed a new technological solution to recycle thermoset composites, the material used to make wind turbine blades.
The partners – also including epoxy producer Olin, the Danish Technological Institute and Aarhus University – aim to present a fully scoped solution to commercialise the technology within three years.
Today, between 85% and 90% of a wind turbine’s total mass can be recycled, with blades accounting for much of the deficit.
The partners describe their solution as “the final technological step towards a fully recyclable wind value chain”.
The group – known as Cetec (Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites) – has developed a two-step process for blade recycling.
First, thermoset composites are disassembled into fibre and epoxy.
Second, through a new process based on chemical reactions, the epoxy is further broken up into base components with qualities similar to the original materials. These materials can then be reintroduced into the manufacturing of new turbine blades.
Simon Frølich, team manager at the Danish Technological Institute, explained: “The key characteristic of composite materials is their unique combination of low weight and high strength.This is governed by the strong bonding of two different materials – fibre and epoxy.
“The dilemma is that this strong bond is also the feature that renders these materials difficult to recycle. Therefore, the development of Cetec’s novel technology, enabling disassembly of the composite at end-of-life, is a gamechanger that will allow us to capture the value represented by each material stream in a new circular value chain.”….