Technological watch

New Project to Develop Fully Recyclable Thermoplastic Wind Turbine Blades


The ZEBRA (Zero wastE Blade ReseArch) project, driven by IRT Jules Verne, brings together industrial companies and technological centers – Arkema, CANOE, ENGIE, Suez, LM Wind Power, Owens Corning – to tackle with the new challenge of closing the remaining gap by designing and manufacturing the first 100% recyclable wind turbine blade.
Towards Highly Recyclable Composites
The ZEBRA project will 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 18.5M€.
To accelerate the wind power industry’s transition to a circular economy for wind turbine blades, the ZEBRA project establishes a strategic consortium that represents the full value chain: From development of materials, to blade manufacturing, to wind turbine operation and decommissioning, and finally recycling of the decommissioned blade material.
  • Arkema has developed Elium®, a thermoplastic resin, well known for its recyclable properties by depolymerization or dissolution. This resin will be used in the ZEBRA project.
  • The project will benefit from CANOE expertise on polymer formulation, carbon fiber development and polymer recycling. CANOE has recently developed a very innovative recycling process of fiber-reinforced acrylic composite material by dissolution method providing a high added-value recovery of both separate recycled methyl methacrylate monomer and recycled fiber.
  • ENGIE is a wind farm operator, with 8.5 GW under management, and the French leader of the wind industry, with more than 2.6 GW of installed capacities. Its purpose is to act to accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral economy, in particular through the sustainable development of renewable technologies.
  • LM Wind Power is a designer and manufacturer of wind turbine blades, with more than 228,000 blades produced since 1978. The Cherbourg factory associated with the ZEBRA project has produced the largest blade ever manufactured at 107 meters in length.
  • Owens Corning is one of the leaders in the field of glass fiber and composite elements and the inventor of patented High Modulus Glass technology that created step change performances in the wind industry the last decade.
  • SUEZ, which helps cities and industries to intelligently and sustainably manage their resources, brings its expertise in the eco-design of the materials used and in the best recycling techniques.

Within the ZEBRA project, 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. 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.



Publication date: 24/09/2020

Omnexus (news)

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2020-07-14