ZEBRA project to develop “world’s first” 100% recyclable wind turbine

A consortium of industrial and technical companies have joined forces to develop what they claim to be the “world’s first” 100% recyclable wind turbine.

The ZEBRA (Zero wastE Blade ReseArch) project, driven by French research centre IRT Jules Verne, aims to investigate the technical, economic and environmental feasibility of thermoplastic wind turbine blades, with an eco-design approach to facilitate recycling.

To accelerate the wind power industry’s transition to a circular economy for wind turbine blades, the ZEBRA project will draw on expertise from consortium partners which includes LM Wind Power, a designer and manufacturer of wind turbine blades, and wind-farm operator ENGIE, among others.

Céline Largeau, ZEBRA project Manager, IRT Jules Verne, said: “Demonstrating a circular approach to wind turbine blades throughout their lifetime requires mobilising a strategic consortium covering the whole value chain to guarantee valuable and precise industrial data and achievements.”

LM Wind Power will design the product, process and manufacture two prototype blades using Arkema’s Elium® resin, in order to test and validate the behaviour of the composite material and its feasibility for industrial production. The ZEBRA project partners will also focus on developing and optimizing the manufacturing process by 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 utilising the thermoplastic material in future wind turbine blades.

Torben K. Jacobsen, Senior Director Advanced Technology Systems, LM Wind Power, said: “As a key player in the transition to affordable, renewable energy sources across the world, the wind power industry works actively to develop new materials with higher performance, longer lifespan and recyclable properties. Using Elium® resin, combined with design, manufacturing and recycling process optimization, constitutes an opportunity to reduce cost, production time and environmental impact of wind turbine blades.”

The ZEBRA project was launched last September with a budget of €18.5 million ($21.8 million). It is expected to last over three years.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. 

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