Today, it is possible to recycle between 85 and 95% of a wind turbine, but the composite materials that make up the blades are challenging to recycle in a cost-effective manner. Right now, an estimated 2.5 million tons of composite materials are in use in wind turbines across the world – and the wind power industry is only growing. Where will that material go when the blades have exceeded their lifetime?
That question is at the heart of the new DecomBlades project. Supporting the wind power industry’s transition to a circular economy, Innovation Fund Denmark’s Grand Solutions programme has awarded funding to 10 Danish project partners, including our EnviroTech division at MAKEEN Energy, to co-fund this research and development a project that seeks to provide basis for commercialised recycling of wind turbine blades using sustainable and responsible solutions.
The project focuses on three processes: shredding of blades to allow the material to be used in different products and processes; use of shredded blade material in cement production; and pyrolysis, a method to separate the material under high temperatures.
Our role in the project is to lead the work on the pyrolysis technology. With a basis in our existing Plastcon technology, we have designed a pilot pyrolysis facility dedicated to treating wind turbine blade materials. In addition to this, we will work for the commercialisation of pyrolysis facilities that recycle composite materials and seek a market for recovered solids to replace new materials.