Wind turbines are already a clean energy source growing in numbers and popularity, but companies are turning to nanoparticles and heat to make the blades even more environmentally friendly by improving their recycling capabilities.
According to WindEurope, by 2025, every year, some 25,000 metric tons of wind turbine blades will come to the end of their operational life, so bio-materials such as sugarcane, beet crops, wood, and bamboo are considered as sustainable alternatives for the coming generations of blades.
“The benefits of nanoparticles include light-weighting, surface protection and electrical conductivity,” says Bojan O. Boskovic, Director of Cambridge Nanomaterials Technology Ltd in the United Kingdom, in reference to Repair 3D, one of the EU-funded Horizon 2020 projects which uses nanoparticles to develop new material for wind turbine blades and recycle industrial plastics.
Another company, Tennessee-based Carbon Rivers in the United States, recycles scrap composites through pyrolysis – heating materials to very high temperatures in the absence of oxygen to thermally decompose chemical compounds. In the past two years, the company processed 80 metric tons of turbine blades, and the second-generation glass fiber was used for automotive, marine, and consumer products. In the next two years, it hopes to boost its daily production to 200 metric tons.