Re-purposing Wind Turbine Blades

As useful as generating wind energy is, at the end of their useful life, wind turbine blades end up in the landfill. In Europe alone, this amounts to some 4 million tons of composite blade waste annually (1). Onshore some 100,00 wind turbine blades will have to be processed over the next decade in Europe alone (2). Imagine the waste once the offshore wind farms that we’re constructing now have to be decommissioned…
(1) Duurzaam ontwerp om windturbines circulair te maken (tno.nl)
(2) Decommissioning of Onshore Wind Turbines | WindEurope

Some recycling methods are being developed, however recycling is much less sustainable than repurposing wind turbine blades, especially given that the glass and carbon fibre reinforced polymer that wind turbine blades are made of is a very high-grade material, with very good strength and stiffness parameters.

In addition to repurposing wind turbine blades as a whole in one-off solutions (see re-wind.info), which is not a solution for the vast amounts of wind turbine blade waste generated every year, wind turbine blades could also be repurposed in construction as proposed by Joustra et al. (2021) and Pronk (2021), by cutting them into panels and beams, and reusing those.

Given the enourmous amounts of wind turbine blade waste that will have to be processed over the coming years, I think we as many bright minds in AEC as possible to think about this issue and experiment with possible ways to repurpose wind turbine blades. I therefore put a model of a 10 MW Reference Wind Turbine developed by the Danish Technical University in a public Speckle stream, such that anyone can have a look, and experiment.

Joustra et al. (2021a) and Pronk (2021) mainly dive into the reuse of the midspan of wind turbine, because those parts can be cut into panels and beams.

The wireframe of the midspan of the DTU 10 MW RWT (see right Speckle viewer above) was created using Rhino/Grasshopper, because I thought it would be easier to create digital panels and beams from the different parts of the midspan from a wireframe than from a complete mesh:

As mentioned above, I’d love to hear from the community in what disciplines these wind turbine blade panels and beams could be most useful, and collaborate on the experimentation.
Can we use the turbine blade beam and panels as facade shading elements?
Would it be feasible to reuse these elements in structural engineering somehow?
Any other ideas?

Jelle Joustra is a product designer. He -together with his co-authors - built a picnic table: Joustra et al. (2021b)


Epic right? :cool_spockle: :starstruck_spockle:

But yea, we’re not going to need that many picnic tables (4 million tons +), but we are going to need many people to come up with many applications for repurposing these wind turbine blades, and I for one could not have come up with this picnic table idea :smiling_hearts_spockle:

5 Likes