[L’industrie c’est fou] Wind turbine blades recycled into gummy bears

Wind power is on the rise. By 2050, France intends to increase the capacity of its fleet, land and sea combined, from 20 GW to around 80 GW. An ambitious goal, as many opponents of this type of renewable energy remain. In addition to noise pollution and the alteration of the landscape, one of their main arguments is based on the difficulty of recycling the blades of wind turbines, built from fiberglass and generally out of use after twenty years of use. ‘use. According to Ademe, these alone could thus represent between 3,000 and 15,000 tonnes of annual waste from 2025.

Alkaline solution and polymers

But several scientists at Michigan State University (USA) believe they have found a solution to this problem. Made from fiberglass and polymers of plant and synthetic origin, the composite resin they invented could prove to be much easier to recycle. Once the wind turbine reaches the end of its life, it would be possible to recover the material and decompose it, in order to develop new blades or completely different objects.

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Mixed with other materials, this resin can for example be used to build household equipment, such as kitchen counters. “ We recently made a bathroom sink so we know it works “said in a press release John Dorgan, one of the leaders of the study. By dissolving the resin in an alkaline solution, they also created an acrylic substance with which to produce car windows and taillights. It would also suffice to increase the temperature by a few degrees during dissolution to obtain a super-absorbent polymer, often used in the production of diapers.

Manufacturers seize the recycling of blades

Even more impressively, this alkaline solution also generated potassium lactate, an additive commonly used in the food industry. Once purified, it played the role of mystery ingredient… in a recipe for gummy bears. Eager to advance science, John Dorgan ate these candies, without noticing any adverse effects. ” A carbon atom from a plant, such as corn or grass, is no different from a carbon atom from a fossil fuel “, explains the chemist, acknowledging nevertheless that a large-scale development of this resin seems difficult to envisage for the moment.

These researchers are fortunately not the only ones actively working on the subject. In March, the IRT Jules Verne announced that it had manufactured the first full-scale wind turbine blade prototype based on fully recyclable thermoplastic resin. Supported by many manufacturers, including Arkema, Engie and Suez, this project should lead to a commercial solution by the second half of 2024.

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Source: UsineNouvelle – Actualités A la une by www.usinenouvelle.com.

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