ZEBRA Project Sets Sights on Recyclable Wind Turbine Blades

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Wind energy, both onshore and offshore, plays a critical role in the world’s transition to carbon-free energy sources. With a product lifespan of 30 years and a wind turbine recyclability rate of 85% to 90%, the wind power industry is now looking to close the remaining gap by designing and manufacturing the first 100% recyclable wind turbine blade.

The ZEBRA (Zero wastE Blade ReseArch) project, driven by French research center IRT Jules Verne, brings together industrial companies and technical centers to demonstrate the technical, economic and environmental relevance of thermoplastic wind turbine blades – with an eco-design approach to facilitate recycling. The project has been launched for a period of 42 months with a budget of $21.8 million.

To accelerate the wind power industry’s transition to a circular economy for wind turbine blades, the ZEBRA project establishes a strategic consortium that represents the full value chain: from the development of materials, to blade manufacturing, to wind turbine operation and decommissioning, and finally the recycling of the decommissioned blade material.

“Demonstrating a circular approach to wind turbine blades throughout their lifetime requires mobilizing a strategic consortium covering the whole value chain to guarantee valuable and precise industrial data and achievements,” says Céline Largeau, ZEBRA project manager at IRT Jules Verne. “The ZEBRA project is a great opportunity to join together Arkema, CANOE, ENGIE, LM Wind Power, Owens Corning and Suez who are key players in the wind energy sector. We look forward to improving wind energy performance and efficiency.”

Within the ZEBRA project, LM Wind Power, designer and manufacturer of wind turbine blades, will design the product, process and manufacture two prototype blades – using Arkema’s Elium resin – in order to test and validate the behavior of the composite material and its feasibility for industrial production. ZEBRA project partners will focus on developing and optimizing the manufacturing process using automation to reduce energy consumption and waste from production. Project partners will then explore methods to recycle the materials used in the prototype blades into new products. Finally, a life cycle analysis will assess the environmental and economic viability of further utilizing the thermoplastic material in future wind turbine blades.

Photo: IRT Jules Verne’s landing page



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