In 2050, the global waste of fan blades will reach 2 million tons. Is thermal cracking technology the solution for recycling?

In the past ten years, the number of wind power installations has been increasing, bringing huge green energy power generation and accelerating the progress of energy transformation. At the same time, it is accompanied by the troublesome issue of wind turbine recycling. It is estimated that by 2050, the global wind turbine blades will be discarded. In view of this, Lithuanian scientists proposed a new method of leaf recycling to avoid any waste.

Lithuania’s Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) and the Lithuanian Institute of Energy Research believe that thermal cracking technology can be used to decompose Glass-reinforced polymer composites (GRP) in wind turbine blades into phenol and fibers. Among them, 10% of the European GRP waste comes from the wind power industry, and others include automobiles, ships, buildings, etc. The global demand is increasing by 6% annually, and because many countries prohibit the throwing of composite materials into landfills, it is It is necessary to deal with these energy wastes, which are increasing year by year.

Samy Yousef, a researcher in mechanical engineering and design at Kaunas University of Technology, said that GRP materials are either thermoset or thermoplastic, but are generally made of fibers and resins, which are subdivided into more expensive carbon fibers and more common glass fibers.

Therefore, in order to test the effect of thermal cracking technology on different materials, the team studied glass fiber thermosetting materials, glass fiber thermoplastics, and the extraction effect of phenol with or without zeolite catalysts, and also evaluated the addition of carbon black and other additives. Whether it can increase the extraction yield.

The team pointed out that the actual yield varies depending on the pyrolysis temperature, but in general, many volatile compounds (up to 66%) and fibrous residues (about 30%) can be extracted, adding fibrous nanotubes, graphene, etc. Granules also increase phenol production. Yousef said that the volatile components are mainly phenol, which can be further used in the production of resins, and the fiber residues can also be used for various purposes after chemical purification, including fiber reinforced concrete, polymer composite materials, fiber flooring, which can be recycled and reused. Ensure low carbon emissions.

It’s just that the team’s test object is not the actual fan blade, but the sample prepared in the laboratory. The composition is similar to the fan blade. Yousef pointed out that it is indeed necessary to test whether the paint on the fan blade will affect the results, but this is not a problem. At present, the research team Models are also being built, with the hope of further calculating economic and environmental impacts.

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