As part of the ZEBRA project (Zero wastE Blade ReseArch), the 62-meter wind turbine blade is made of thermoplastic composite that uses Arkema’s Elium® resin and new high-performance fiberglass materials from Owens Corning. The prototype is said to be 100% recyclable.
The Zero Waste Blade Research Project
Launched in September 2020, the ZEBRA project brings together a consortium of major industry players and technical centers including Arkema, CANOE, Engie, LM Wind Power, Owens Corning and SUEZ and led by French research center IRT Jules Verne. Together, they are working to demonstrate the technical, economic and environmental relevance of thermoplastic wind turbine blades made on a scale of 1, in an eco-design approach that facilitates recycling.
One year of development, material testing and process trials were needed for LM Wind Power to design and manufacture the thermoplastic blade at its plant in Ponferrada, Spain.
A Recyclable Material
The liquid thermoplastic resin is ideally suited for manufacturing large parts by resin infusion. Combined with high-performance fiberglass, the composite material offers performance similar to that of thermoset resins with the advantage of recyclability.
Elium® resin-based composite components can indeed be recycled using an advanced chemical recycling method that completely depolymerizes the resin, separates the fiber from the resin, and recovers a new virgin resin and high-performance glass fiber ready for reuse.
This method was developed by Arkema and CANOE and is currently being tested on all composite parts, including waste generated during production. Owens Corning also aims to find recycling solutions for fiberglass through the reuse route in various applications.
The Next Steps
LM Wind Power will now proceed with full-scale structural life testing at its test and validation center in Denmark to verify the performance of the composite material used for the blade and its feasibility for future sustainable blade production.