Decommissioning and circular recycling of wind turbines
The wind industry is committed to promoting a more circular economy and determining how it can support this. A sustainable process for handling end-of-life wind turbines is needed to maximize the environmental benefits of wind energy from a life cycle approach. To this end, the wind industry is looking for dismantling methods in which the materials are processed in a circular manner. Industries must also be found that can make use of the new recycled raw materials that result from this.
Re-use of composite
New raw materials are created by using two different processing methods. In one method, the reinforcing elements of the composite are preserved and new products are made. In the other, the residual product is used as a raw material for the production of cement. Decom North also links clients to innovative projects for ‘a second life’ of wind turbine blades.
The wind turbine blades are the biggest challenge in the recycling process. The blades mainly consist of composite. This material is as strong as steel but at the same time very lightweight. So ideal for making efficient wind turbine blades, but due to its stiffness, the material is also difficult to recycle.
Recycling old wind turbine blades is a top priority for the wind industry. This requires logistic and technological solutions for dismantling, collection, transport, waste management and reintegration in the value chain.
Decom North provides the answer to this question. A collaboration between various companies, knowledge institutions and government based in the Northern Netherlands has resulted in a one-stop-shop concept for decommissioning and circular processing of complete wind turbines.
Decom North offers various solutions for the processing of the blades. For example, the blades can be mechanically recycled, which means that the blades are shredded into fiber-rich waste material that can be used to make new products. Chemical recycling is also a reuse option in which the fibers and the resin are separated. New products can be made from both residual materials.
Another technology that can be offered by Decom North is processing via the cement industry. During this processing, the shape of the glass fiber is not preserved, but the mineral components are reused in the cement. The resins are used in the processing process and replace virgin fuels. The residual product is a new raw material for the cement and largely replaces the sand that is normally added.