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ACMA report addresses composite wind turbine blade recycling

The report points to viable technologies and strategies for sustainability and energy efficiency in composite manufacturing and EOL recycling. 

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Source | ACMA

On May 19, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI, Palo Alto, Calif., U.S.), in collaboration with the composites industry trade group American Composite Manufacturers Association (ACMA, Arlington, Virg., U.S.), published a report that addresses scientific questions related to recycling composite wind turbine blades. The analysis provides guidance on wind power industry R&D priorities, including the magnitude of the wind turbine blade waste issue, potential recycling and repurposing solutions and next steps for research and development.

Some commercially available technologies reviewed by the report include turbine blade life extension, pyrolysis (a process to repurpose materials from composites for energy), cement kilns applications, and grinding turbine blades to be used as filler material in a variety of products. The assessment is also based on interviews with global industry leaders and experts, who look at questions to consider when recycling wind turbine blades, such as material and energy recovery technology, site location and wind turbine scrap resources. 

"By 2050, the industry could send approximately 4 million tonnes of wind turbine blades to U.S. landfills," says EPRI senior technical executive Ken Ladwig. "This report points to technologies to avoid waste disposal and explores the need for further review and development of recycling technologies. It also shows us the need for the collaborative development of a commercial-scale facility to process blades at the end of their useful life as a key aspect of a sustainable and economically viable solution.

"As the composites industry looks ahead to the next revolution in manufacturing, recycling and sustainability are critical issues,” says ACMA's interim president Kevin Barnett. “This report provides insight that will inform and promote long-term strategies, new technologies and collaboration to pioneer energy-efficient composite manufacturing and EOL recycling."

The report, “Wind turbine blade recycling: preliminary assessment" can be viewed here. The report was also included in ACMA’s 2020 Composite Recycling Conference held May 20-21.