For the last two decades the wind power industry has rapidly increased in Europe becoming one of the most economic renewable energy sources. Now, and mainly in the coming years, the first generations of wind turbines will be either close to reach the end of their service life or to be replaced by more efficient models. In this sense, a very important environmental issue is how to deal with end-of-life turbines.
Whilst most parts of wind turbines (foundation, tower, drive train, generator or electronics) are made of materials and components (concrete, steel, iron, copper or cables) with well-known recovery routes, rotor blades are large, complex and resistant structures, and consequently their recycling constitutes a challenge. Typically, rotor blades are made of composites including glass and/or carbon fibres as reinforcement, resins, sandwich core materials, coatings and lightning conductors. The internal part (called spar) is made of many layers of inorganic fibres and thermoset resins and the outer part (shell) is a sandwich structure made of a foamed core.
Nowadays, disposal on landfills and incineration are the most expected destinies for end-of-life rotor blades, and therefore more sustainable solutions are needed. In this sense, the LIFE-BRIO project will anticipate a solution for an increasing large problem and will provide a methodology to reduce it drastically. It will raise awareness among public administrations and policy makers as well as the industrial sector across Europe.
Source: EWEA. The European Wind Energy Association | www.ewea.org
|Internal part or spar||Outer part or shell|