ZEBRA Consortium to Develop Fully Recyclable Wind Turbine Blade

A consortium including Engie and LM Wind Power has launched a project to design and manufacture the wind industry’s first 100 per cent recyclable turbine blade.

The ZEBRA (Zero wastE Blade ReseArch) project is led by the French research center IRT Jules Verne. Apart from Engie and LM Wind Power, the cross-sector consortium behind the project also includes Arkema, CANOE, and Owens Corning.

The aim of the ZEBRA project is to demonstrate on a full scale the technical, economic and environmental relevance of thermoplastic wind turbine blades, with an eco-design approach to facilitate recycling.

The project has been launched for a period of 42 months with a budget of EUR 18.5 million.

The ZEBRA consortium is said to represent the full value chain; from the development of materials, to blade manufacturing, to wind turbine operation and decommissioning, and finally recycling of the decommissioned blade material.

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

”The ZEBRA project is a great opportunity to join together Arkema, CANOE, ENGIE, LM Wind Power, Owens Corning and Suez who are key leaders in the wind energy sector. We look forward to carrying out constructive work altogether to improve wind energy performance and efficiency.”

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 behavior of the composite material and its feasibility for industrial production. The two blades will be manufactured at LM Wind Power’s factory in Cherbourg, France.

In parallel, the ZEBRA project partners will 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 utilizing the thermoplastic material in future wind turbine blades.

“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,” Torben K. Jacobsen, Senior Director Advanced Technology Systems, LM Wind Power, said.

”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. We are thrilled to be a launching partner for a truly recyclable blade for future wind turbines, leading the way to a sustainable world that works for generations to come.”

Photo: LM Wind Power

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