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It is possible to fully recycle composite fan blades

A coalition of industry and academic leaders has developed a new technology that makes it possible to recycle thermosetting composites in the field of fan blades.

The new technology will drive the final technology to a fully recyclable wind turbine value chain. To be able to adopt this new technology and promote the recycling economy in the wind power industry, a new initiative called cetec (thermosetting epoxy composite recycling economy) has been established. Within three years, cetec aims to propose a comprehensive solution for the industry to adopt based on the commercialization of new recycling technology.

Some of cetec's funding is provided by the Danish Innovation Fund (IFD), led by Vestas, the leader of global sustainable energy solutions, and has attracted industry and academia leaders, including world leading epoxy producers Olin, the Danish Institute of Technology (DTI) and the University of Aarhus.

Dreamwind is an innovation program driven by the same partners, under which the new technology with two process steps has been developed: first, the thermosetting composite is decomposed into fibers and epoxy resins, and then, through a new chemical recovery process, the epoxy resin is further decomposed into basic components similar to the original material. After that, these materials can be used again to make new turbine blades, which opens a new cycle path for epoxy resin.
It is possible to fully recycle composite fan blades
New alliance of industry and academia to provide commercial solutions for full recovery of wind turbine blades

Generally, 85% to 90% of wind turbines are recyclable, but due to the inherent properties of thermosetting composites, the turbine blade materials which constitute the remaining percentage are not recyclable. Cetec aims to narrow the gap in this cycle and make an important step forward in eliminating waste in the wind industry as a whole.

"As a global commitment to future net zero growth, ensuring sustainable development of the wind industry is essential, including Vestas's ambition to achieve zero waste turbine production by 2040.". With the breakthrough of this new technology in chemical recovery of epoxy resin, cetec project will become an important milestone for Vestas to achieve this goal. In the future, the retired fan blades will no longer need to be landfilled. " Allan Korsgaard Poulsen, head of sustainable development and advanced materials, Vista innovation and concepts, said.

"The key feature of the composite is the unique combination of low quality and high strength, which is determined by the strong combination of two different materials, fiber and epoxy. The problem is that this strong combination is also the reason why these materials are difficult to recycle. Therefore, the development of cetec's new technology enables the composite material to be decomposed after the end of service life, which will enable us to capture the value represented by each material flow in the new cycle value chain. " Simon fr lich, PhD and team manager at the Danish Institute of technology, said.

"Chemical recovery of epoxy based materials can form molecular blocks by the decomposition of these highly stable polymer chains. These blocks are easy to handle and can be used to produce new epoxy resins of the same quality as the original material. Avoiding the loss of valuable molecular complexity in this way is an ideal concept and an important step towards sustainable materials. " Dr troels skrydstrup, professor at Aarhus University, said.

Cetec solution will solve the problem of lack of epoxy resin recovery technology, and create possibility for introducing new recycling solutions into wind energy industry. This has great potential for access to commercial value, especially for markets that are tightening up the management of waste management in manufacturing that are serving a broader sustainability agenda. When fully developed, the solution may also have an impact on other industries that rely on thermosetting composites production, such as automobiles and aviation.

"As a leading epoxy manufacturer and global supplier in the wind industry, Olin is proud to be able to provide our technical expertise for this important sustainable project." "Developing technologies that can narrow the existing gaps in thermosetting composites by creating cycles is another example of how we put resource efficiency sustainability goals into action," said Leif ole Meyer, chief of T & SD at Olin. This innovation will help the industry minimize the consumption of raw materials and increase the recycling of materials. "

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