C5 - Recycling/reuse of composites

C - Materials and Manufacturing

Status - published
Last updated on: 12/11/2019

Challenges/Opportunities

Composites, glass fibre in particular are currently not easily recycled. Very large amounts of composites will come out of service posing an environmentally unacceptable situation ??? current practice is to land-fill decommissioned blades.

Solution

With a number of offshore wind turbines approaching their end of service life, investigation of appropriate end of life scenarios becomes a timely priority.

Context And Need

Need:

A large number of first-generation wind turbines are entering the second half of their service life. Service life extension and repowering can reduce LCoE, however materials used in decommissioned blades in particular need to be reused/recycled.

Breakthrough:

Breakthrough is needed to repurpose/recycle composites for offshore wind and marine renewables.

Summary

A large number of first-generation wind turbines are entering the second half of their service life. Service life extension and repowering can reduce LCoE, however materials used in decommissioned blades in particular need to be reused/recycled. New research is needed to investigate methods to repurpose and/or recycle composites for offshore wind and marine renewables.

Impact Potential

Expected potential impact is high for OPEX through repowering and life extension. However, it will become unacceptable for the industry not to tackle a growing major unrecyclability issue.

Research Status

Some disparate research work is underway by individual investigators but there is no concerted programme for the recyclability of composites for marine applications.

Also Offshore Wind Innovation Hub - O&M and Windfarm Lifecycle innovation priorities

Supergen ORE Hub - Flexible Fund Research - Recycling Composite Wind Turbine Blade for High-Performance Composite Manufacturing

Lead Institution: University of Strathclyde

The wind energy industry is the fastest growing global consumer of glass fibre-reinforced plastic (GRP) composites. In parallel with this growth is rising GRP waste from end-of-life wind turbine blades (WTB). Unlike other wind turbine components modern lightweight composite WTB are not designed for recyclability. Consequently, developing commercially viable solutions for WTB recycling and reuse is rapidly becoming one of the most important challenges facing global wind industry. This project aims to develop a cost-effective recycling process with commercial competitiveness for large scale recycling of wind turbine blades through reducing the energy demand in the recycling process, improving the quality of reclaimed fibres, and improving their manufacturability.

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