Researchers Awarded Wind Turbine Recycling Grant

by | Jun 16, 2023

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Engineering researchers from the University of Edinburgh have won a grant of $160,000 to develop their wind turbine recycling process. The technique turns old turbines into powder that can be used as protection for engineering and structural components.

Professor Vasileios Koutsos and Dr. Dipa Roy created a method for turning decommissioned wind turbine blades into protective coatings for new wind turbine blades. The coating created would help protect wind turbines from water damage and erosion and also has the potential to prevent corrosion on other structures, such as suspension cables for bridges.

Funding from Greencoat UK Wind will support their 12-month research project, called Added-value CoatTings, in further developing the process. University of Edinburgh’s commercialization service helped secure the funding.

“The recycling of the fibre-reinforced, epoxy-based composites used in many applications, including wind turbine blades, has become of critical importance for net zero targets,” said Koutsos. “We are delighted to have been awarded the funding for this innovative project and look forward to using our materials expertise to create a novel recycling technology that is likely to have considerable commercial impact.”

Wind Energy’s Prominence and Creating a Circular Renewable Energy Economy

Wind energy now outpaces gas in Britain’s electricity generation and is considered one of the critical pieces of the United Kingdom’s net-zero goals. Yet, wind turbines’ lifespan of about 20-25 years and their difficult-to-recycle parts still pose an environmental challenge.

Along with these Edinburgh researchers, many other groups are working towards closing the loop on a circular renewable energy economy. The DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies office recently announced their support of Tennessee-based small business, Carbon River, and their process for recycling glass fiber from decommissioned wind turbine blades.

Re-wind, a network of faculty, staff, and students at Georgia Institute of Technology, University College Cork, Queen’s University Belfast, City University of New York, and Munster Technological University, are also working to find ways to upcycle wind turbines for use in the marine environment.

University of Edinburgh’s new recycling technology and subsequent grant support reflects further development in improving renewable energy’s long-term sustainability.

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