A wind turbine can typically last 20-25 years after which it must be replaced. Estimates suggest that over the period of the next 20 years, over 720,000 tonnes of turbines will exit their service and the waste will need to be managed.

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When faced with the magnanimity of the situation, building bridges out of retired turbines does not come across as a long-term strategy to deal with them. The Zero Waste Blade Research (ZEBRA) Project is working on more sustainable materials in the form of thermoplastic composites.

The 62-meter (203-ft) prototype blade is made with Elium resin from materials company Arkema, which is a glass-fiber reinforced thermoplastic. Not only is the material 100 percent recyclable, it is said to deliver a similar level of performance to thermoset resins that are favored for their lightweight and durability.

Through a chemical recycling method, the material can be depolymerized and turned into a new virgin resin for re-use, acting as a proof-of-concept for a circular economy loop for the wind energy sector. Before that happens, in the coming weeks LM Wind Power will start full-scale structural testing to verify the blade’s performance. It will then verify these advanced recycling methods later in the year, while also working on ways of recycling production waste.

According to newatlas