Eastern Iowa company to launch wind turbine blade recycling process | GE Message Board Posts

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Msg  7387 of 7454  at  1/25/2023 11:42:04 AM  by


Eastern Iowa company to launch wind turbine blade recycling process

 Energy Monitor Worldwide

Eastern Iowa company to launch wind turbine blade recycling process


An eastern Iowa company will soon begin a new recycling method for wind turbine blades intended to prevent build-ups in landfills.

That's according to Travero Director of Business Development Jeff Woods, who says REGEN Fiber, which Travero owns, has created a patent-pending process to convert the decommissioned blades into other reusable materials for manufacturers. Woods tells KMA News the investment in a recycling method also comes to shrink the carbon footprint of current decommissioning methods as the demand for wind energy grows.

"Right now when those blades come down, many of them have historically been buried in landfills, hidden in quarries, and some of them have been chopped up and burned as a co-combustion product in cement kilns and other applications," said Woods. "We were looking for a truly sustainable solution to 'complete the loop' by taking the blade, recycling it, and putting the products from the blade back into the supply chain process."

According to the American Clean Power Association, wind energy is the largest renewable energy source in the United States. While not disclosing the exact details due to the pending patent, Woods says each fiberglass blade will be cut into sections, then fed through what's essentially a giant wood chipper. He adds that a few factors play into making the method more "eco-friendly."

"For starters, when we're done with it the fibers and other materials from the blade are still completely reusable in concrete applications and similar methods," he said. "Our process does not use any type of chemicals to extract and separate the materials, nor does it use any type of heat -- it's largely mechanical in nature."

He says the resulting fibers can then be used in things like mortar and concrete to reinforce items such as sidewalks and roads. Thus, Woods adds the road construction and concrete industry have been particularly interested in the development.

"The road construction and concrete industry is under scrutiny as a contributor for global warning due to the manufacturing and other inputs that go into it and concrete is radiative in nature," said Woods. "So, they're very interested in trying to come up with any kind of carbon footprint reduction products that they can use to displace the use of cement, silica sand, or fly ash materials that they use today."

In 2021, REGEN Fiber established a pilot facility near Des Moines. Woods says they have worked with customers in the concrete industry and ensured the product would hold up through ASTM standards and collaborating with various state department of transportation agencies.

However, a new commercial facility is currently being constructed in the Cedar Rapids suburb of Fairfax to handle the majority of recycling, nearly 3,000 decommissioned blades a year at full production.

"Our plan is, as phase one, to produce or recycle over 30,000 tons of material a year when we get up to full production, and then from there it'll really be a function of what the market and people that need the blades recycled want to do," he said. "There's plenty of interest in the offtake for the product because fiber is in short supply around North America -- so people are interested in using that in their applications."

Additionally, the Des Moines facility is also already recycling scrap materials from the blades at a commercial scale. Woods says the hope is to have the Fairfax operational by the second half of 2023.


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