Blade recycling into new raw material -- Danish companies study possibilities

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New possibilities in the recycling of glass fibre have encouraged two Danish wind turbine blade manufacturers, LM Glasfiber and Vestas, to get involved in a working group to find how the material can be recycled in an environmentally neutral way. If glass fibre is burned, it releases hazardous materials.

"Today, the blades are cut into pieces," says LM's Steen Broust Nielsen. "Materials other than glass fibre -- such as lead and cables -- are removed and recycled. The glass fibre pieces are then shipped to an environmentally controlled rubbish dump in Denmark." Vestas uses the same method as LM but with extra check points in its factories in order to receive environmental certification, says Vestas' Mogens Filtenborg. "This project has suggested interesting possibilities in the future," he says. Glass fibre is oil based -- so part of the glass fibre could be used to replace oil in other products, meaning essentially that wind turbine blades could be a raw material. The remaining product will be glass, which possibly can be recycled into more fibre. "From there, there's not much left of the blades," Filtenborg says.

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