New ‘smash’ system used to recover light wood from wind turbine blades

The blades of the wind turbine are indeed huge, reaching 107 meters (351 feet) in length, according tomedia New Atlas. They are usually light and light, but when they reach their useful life, a new system will make it possible to recycle it more easily than ever before. According to the Fraunhofer Wood Research Institute in Germany, turbine blades are mainly made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic and light wood, which are bonded together by epoxy or polyester. Due to the extremely high stress that the blades must withstand, this combination is so strong that it is difficult to separate the two materials once the blades cannot be used.

Typically, most wind turbine blades (still glued together with wood and plastic) are burned as raw materials in cement plants. Demand is limited, but a lot of energy is needed to burn them effectively. With these limitations in mind, the Fraunhofer Wood Research Institute team developed a new light wood landfill technology.

It involves the use of an on-board water gun injector, which is cut in place into 10 to 20 meters (33 to 66 feet) long when the blade is removed from the main turbine. These parts are then placed in a mobile chopper and then cut into “about the size of the palm”. Next, use a shock crusher to rotate the pieces at high speed, crushing them to destroy the wood/plastic combination. According to project leader Peter Meinlschmidt, the break occurred because of a different consistency between the cork and hardglass fibers and resins. The wood can then be simply sorted from the plastic.

So far, recycled light wood has been used to make ultra-lightweight heat shields that are reported to be comparable to polystyrene materials. Wood has also been milled into powder and then mixed with foaming agents to form a packaging/insulating material that can be recycled like paper when no longer needed.

New 'smash' system used to recover light wood from wind turbine blades