Vestas is turning old wind turbine blades into cement

Read the full story at Waste360.

An Iowa Vestas site is collecting wind turbine blades from across the country to be recycled. The company is grinding the blades up to be used as an additive in cement.

Carbon Rivers makes wind turbine blade recycling and upcycling a reality with support from DOE

A large amount of recycled glass fiber placed in a cardboard box.
Carbon Rivers has achieved 99.9% recycled glass fiber purity from different end-of-life waste streams like wind turbine blades. The complete elimination of contaminants, along with high recoverable fiber aspect ratio and performance allows recycled glass fiber to displace virgin fiberglass in different composite applications. The high purity also opens the potential for remelting—allowing recycled glass fiber to be incorporated into virgin fiberglass, thereby closing the material loop and creating a circular economy. Photo from Carbon Rivers via DOE

Read the full story from U.S. DOE.

A new fiberglass recycling technology is helping to develop a circular wind turbine economy while creating jobs and revitalizing a historic site.

Carbon Rivers, a company that produces advanced material and energy technologies, has commercialized a process to recover clean, mechanically intact glass fiber from decommissioned wind turbine blades. Glass fibers are a key part of the composite—a material made up of multiple constituents such as polymers and fibers—used to create wind turbine blades. Typically, turbine blades are 50% glass or carbon fiber composite by weight. However, Carbon Rivers upcycles all components of the blade, including the steel.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, the Carbon Rivers project team, led by Ryan Ginder, Bowie Benson, and Eva Li in collaboration with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, successfully scaled up a recovery process that has the capability to divert thousands of tons of waste that would otherwise be destined for landfills. To date, Carbon Rivers has upcycled a few thousand metric tons and is building capacity in their new facility to take in over 50,000 metric tons annually.

Wind turbine blades could someday be recycled into sweet treats

Read the full story from the American Chemical Society. See also the story in The Guardian.

Centered also has good coverage, including a video and a round-up of similar circular economy technological breakthroughs..

Wind power is an increasingly popular form of renewable energy. However, when it’s time to replace the huge turbine blades that convert wind into electricity, disposal is a problem. Now, scientists report a new composite resin suitable for making these behemoths that could later be recycled into new turbine blades or a variety of other products, including countertops, car taillights, diapers and even gummy bears.

The researchers will present their results today at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

“The beauty of our resin system is that at the end of its use cycle, we can dissolve it, and that releases it from whatever matrix it’s in so that it can be used over and over again in an infinite loop,” says John Dorgan, Ph.D., who is presenting the work at the meeting. “That’s the goal of the circular economy.”

The material could even be upcycled into higher-value products. Digesting the thermoplastic resin in an alkaline solution released poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), a common acrylic material for windows, car taillights and many other items. Raising the temperature of the digestion converted PMMA into poly(methacrylic acid), a super-absorbent polymer that is used in diapers. The alkaline digestion also produced potassium lactate, which can be purified and made into candy and sports drinks. “We recovered food-grade potassium lactate and used it to make gummy bear candies, which I ate,” Dorgan says.

The winds of St. Mary’s, Alaska

A study of distributed wind energy in a remote Alaskan community reveals how similar communities could benefit from this source of renewable energy. Photo by Drew Dempsey | Unsplash
A study of distributed wind energy in a remote Alaskan community reveals how similar communities could benefit from this source of renewable energy. Photo by Drew Dempsey | Unsplash

A study of the value of distributed wind energy in a remote area of Alaska shows that the standalone wind turbine installed for a rural community provides significant economic and climate benefits, indicating that other remote communities could also achieve similar beneficial results from wind energy.

The study, conducted by a research team from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Sandia National Laboratories and published in the journal Energies, centered around distributed wind energy—meaning wind turbines that power nearby individual homes, businesses, and communities—in the tiny western Alaskan village of St. Mary’s.  

Nearly 700 people make up the St. Mary’s, Alaska, community. The village historically receives electricity from a diesel power plant, which also serves two other small villages, Pitka’s Point and Mountain Village. The electric microgrids of the three villages are connected to each other but isolated from outside transmission systems. Diesel, however, is expensive and challenging to deliver to remote Alaskan villages due to transportation, logistical, and weather challenges.

In 2019, a 900-kilowatt standalone wind turbine was erected in Pitka’s Point, which serves all three communities. The turbine helps provide electricity flow to the St. Mary’s microgrid to power homes and other buildings in the village. Alaska Village Electric Cooperative—or AVEC—owns and operates both the diesel power plant and the wind turbine. The turbine was partially funded through a 2016 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy grant to the AVEC/Pitka’s Point Native Corporation Renewable Energy Joint Venture.

With the support of DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, the research team used a PNNL-developed framework to evaluate the benefits and costs of this distributed wind energy project for different stakeholders. In this case, they considered the impact to AVEC, as well as the village’s residents, the state of Alaska, and the world at large.

The team discovered that AVEC could avoid $5.3 million in expected diesel costs over the lifetime of the turbine as the wind energy partially displaces diesel generation.

“When looking from a societal perspective, there’s also tremendous benefit to the environment with a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from diesel use, which is valued at almost $2 million from avoiding long-term damage to health, property, and more,” said PNNL economist Sarah Barrows, who led the study.

Adds Barrows, “We also found that construction, as well as operations and maintenance over the distributed wind energy project’s lifetime, translated into an estimated $7 million in economic benefits within the state of Alaska. The economic impact from spending on construction, operations, and maintenance combined was by far the largest overall benefit to society, as the project created jobs and contributed to economic growth in the state.”

The team noted that other sources of funding, such as incentives, awards, and subsidies, can help utilities, like AVEC, reduce often-insurmountable upfront costs. The several million dollars in total estimated societal benefits—which are separate from the estimated benefits to AVEC—far outweighed St. Mary’s project cost to the public in terms of federal and state awards to install the turbine, illustrating the return on investment of public funding.  

Results of the study provide information that can help utilities, such as AVEC, as well as federal and state lawmakers make sound decisions about installing distributed wind turbines to support other villages’ remote microgrid systems.

The PNNL team will focus future efforts on other aspects of distributed wind energy in remote communities, including resilience and environmental justice impacts; as well as economics of potential hybrid systems that use wind energy, solar power, and energy storage to support remote communities.

This research is part of PNNL’s growing valuation analysis research.

Building a Domestic Offshore Wind Supply Chain

Download the document.

In March 2022, the LEP brought together an extraordinary group of leaders and experts for a private, virtual event on to workshop a series of four white papers related to building a robust domestic supply chain to support the emerging offshore wind (OSW) industry in the United States and abroad.

The workshop, moderated by Kevin Knobloch, distinguished associate at the EFI and president of Knobloch Energy, built on the discussion and conclusions of the first LEP OSW roundtable held in March 2021.

The aim of this new workshop was to explore and discuss the issues raised in the four white papers (across three focused discussion sessions) and help shape recommendations for actions and policies that can help create a robust domestic OSW supply chain.

How to recycle a 150-foot wind turbine blade? Haul it to Louisiana, MO

Read the full story from St. Louis Public Radio.

In the small community of Louisiana, Missouri, it’s not uncommon to see what looks like massive white wings traveling down the road, strapped to flatbed tractor-trailers.

Once a bustling commercial port, the historic Mississippi River town 90 miles north of St. Louis has become a hub for an unusual commodity: used wind turbine blades. Shipments from nearly every corner of the U.S. arrive daily at the Veolia North America recycling plant, the last stop for turbine blades at the end of their lifespan.

Vattenfall unveils Irene blade recycling plans

Read the full story at ReNews.biz.

Blades of wind farm Irene Vorrink will be recycled and turned into sports equipment, insulation materials or components for solar farms, Vattenfall has said.

Making green energy greener: Researchers propose method for wind turbine blades’ recycling

Read the full story from the Kaunas University of Technology.

Wind turbine blades made from glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) laminate composites can serve for up to 25 years. After that, they end up in landfills which has become a real challenge for the renewable energy industry. Researchers have proposed a method for wind turbine blades’ recycling. Using pyrolysis, they broke the composite materials into their constituent parts. According to scientists, the extracted materials can be reused, and the process is virtually waste-free.

Making the green energy greener: Lithuanian researchers proposed a method for wind turbine blades’ recycling

Read the full story from Kaunas University of Technology .

A method for recycling wind turbine blades has been developed that uses pyrolysis to break the composite materials into their constituent parts – phenol and fibre.

Offshore wind turbines could mess with ships’ radar signals

Read the full story in Wired.

A new study finds that turbines can muddle ships’ navigational systems, obscuring the location of smaller boats or creating misleading images on radar screens.