Reusing Composite Materials From Decommissioned Wind Turbine Blades

Abstract
The very rapid growth in wind energy technology in the last 15 years has led to a rapid growth in the amount of non–biodegradable, thermosetting FRP composite materials used in wind turbine blades that will need to be managed of in the near future. A typical 2.0 MW turbine with three 50 m blades has approximately 20 tonnes of FRP material and an 8 MW turbine has approximately 80 tonnes of FRP material (1 MW  10 tonnes of FRP). Calculations show that 4.2 million tonnes will need to be managed globally by 2035 and 16.3 million tonnes by 2055 if wind turbine construction continues at current levels and with current technology. Three major categories of end-of-life (EOL) options are possible – disposal, recovery and reuse. Reuse options are the primary focus of this paper since landfilling and incineration are environmentally harmful and recovery recycling methods are not economical. The current work reports on different architectural and structural options for reusing parts of wind turbine blades in new or retrofitted housing projects. Large-sized FRP pieces that can be salvaged from the turbine blades and potentially useful in infrastructure projects where harsh environmental conditions (water and high humidity) exist. Their noncorrosive properties make them durable construction materials. The approach presented is to cut the decommissioned wind turbine blades into segments that can be repurposed for structural and architectural applications for affordable housing projects. The geographical focus of the designs presented in this paper is in the coastal region of the Yucatan on the Gulf of Mexico where low quality masonry block informal housing is vulnerable to severe hurricanes and flooding. In what follows, a prototype 100m long wind blade model provided by Sandia National Laboratories is used as a demonstration to show how a wind blade can be broken down into parts, thus making it possible to envision architectural applications for the different wind blade segments.

Keywords
Architecture, Composite Materials, FRP, Housing, Recycling, Reuse, Waste, Wind Turbines

Citation
L.C. Bank, F.R. Arias, T.R. Gentry, T. Al-Haddad, J.F. Chen, and R. Morrow, “Reusing Composite Materials from Decommissioned Wind Turbine Blades,” Proceedings of NOCMAT 2017, 17th International Conference on Non-conventional Materials and Technologies, Merida, MEXICO, November 26-29, 2017. USB.