Danish Researchers Developing Solvent to Recycle Fiberglass Wind Turbine Blades

 Danish Researchers Developing Solvent to Recycle Fiberglass Wind Turbine Blades

As part of the DreamWind project, researchers at Denmark’s Aarhus University announced they are working to develop a chemical substance that allows engineers to separate composite materials from one another, thereby making it possible to recycle large and expensive fiberglass components from disused wind turbines.
As the "expiration dates" for first-generation wind turbines near and pass, inoperative infrastructure is currently scrapped in technology "graveyards," where the components are crushed and buried in the ground. This is because it has been virtually impossible to recycle their component fiberglass parts in the past.
“Components made of fiberglass have to go through a difficult procedure before they can be reused,” said Associate Professor Mogens Hinge, as reported  on the university’s website. “This entails separating the glass from the plastic, and you can only do this if you heat the material for a long time at 600 degrees Celsius, which is far from profitable – from both an energy and an economic point of view.”
To combat these technological barriers, Professor Hinge and his research team are working to develop solvents with properties which are opposite to the nanobinders they are accustomed to working with. These solvents would make it possible to separate chemically-bonded components with little or no heat.
As proof of concept, the researchers are initially focusing on the development of a fiberglass solvent, with hopes of alleviating the "acute problem" now present in the wind turbine industry. So far the researchers say their work has proved promising.
The hope is that the glass in the fiberglass can be cleaned and then reused, thus retaining the value of the base component, rather than simply discarding it. This would save the wind turbine industry money, while minimizing carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  
With investment from Innovation Fund Denmark, researchers expect to have a commercially-viable compound in four years.

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