Company gives retired wind turbine blades new life » Yale Climate Connections


A wind turbine usually lasts 20 years or more. But at the end of its life, its giant blades often end up in a landfill.

That’s because many turbine blades are built out of a composite material made of glass fibers mixed with a hardened resin or other polymer.

Recycling this composite material is difficult. But a company called Carbon Rivers has found a way to give this material a new life.

Morgan: “We know how to do this with paper, we know how to do this with metal, and we know how to do this with plastic. Now we’re doing this with composite.”

That’s David Morgan of Carbon Rivers.

The company shreds each turbine blade and runs the pieces through an oxygen-free reactor to separate the polymer from the glass fibers.

Those fibers can then be recovered and reused.

Morgan: “We take that material, recover it, and have the capability to put it into a brand-new blade.”

The process also recovers oil and a gas that can be used for energy.

Last year, the company recycled about 1,000 blades, and Morgan expects that number to grow rapidly in the coming years.

As the world races to fight climate change, wind turbines are replacing more and more fossil fuel power plants.

So finding ways to recycle used blades at the end of their lifetime will be critical in coming decades.

Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman / ChavoBart Digital Media


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