Blades of wind towers are a problem because they are not recyclable

There is a rather particular problem concerning the exploitation of wind energy which perhaps many people have not considered. The problem is that it is not possible to recycle the material that makes up the blades.

An interesting article, which appeared on the website of the National Public Radio in the United States, takes this very topic into consideration and estimates that in the United States alone there will be more than 720,000 tons of material consisting almost of blades that will have to be disposed of in the next 20 years.

The same blades represent a not insignificant problem: while the other parts of a wind tower, including the internal turbine, are made of materials that can be recycled or resold, the blades, made with a mix of materials made of resin and fiberglass, are difficult to recycle.

In essence, they make up mountains of material without any value. Even placing them in a landfill is very difficult: they are not removable objects, and are made up of a single body that cannot be dismantled.

A new method for cutting these blades into three pieces by filling the third part with the two smaller sections was devised by Cindy Langstrom who manages a project for the disposal of wind turbines on behalf of the municipality of Casper, Wyoming, but these are always good methods, certainly not definitive.

However, Karl Englund, the technology director of the start-up Global Fiberglass Solutions, states in the interview in the article that he has found a solution. His company can grind the blades to produce a sort of chocolate chip-sized pallet.

The resulting material can then be used as a coating, as a pallet for packaging or as a pipe material. This small company has already opened its wind turbine plant in central Texas and plans to expand into other countries.


Links/Sources:

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/10/759376113/unfurling-the-waste-problem-caused-by-wind-energy?t=1568715682910

Jonas Heath

A self-professed astronomy nerd, Jonas is a graduate of Grand Canyon University in Arizona and is currently completing his Master of Science in Business Analytics at Arizona State University. Jonas is a talented writer and has a knack for making complicated topics make sense to everyone. After completing his studies, he hopes to be a professor and begin his own science-related YouTube channel.

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Jonas Heath