Edinburgh researchers win grant for wind-turbine recycling

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Engineering researchers have won a 125,000 pounds grant from renewables investor Greencoat UK Wind to develop their wind-turbine recycling process.

The researchers, from the University of Edinburgh, are developing a technique to turn old wind-turbine blades into powders that could be used to protect engineering and structural components, including new wind-turbine blades.

Dr. Dipa Roy (left) and Prof. Vasileios Koutsos in the materials lab at University of Edinburgh. (Courtesy: University of Edinburgh)

Wind energy is a critical part of the renewable energy mix being harnessed in the U.K.’s drive to net-zero carbon, but the question of how to recycle wind-turbine blades at the end of their 20-25 year lifespan continues to pose an engineering and environmental challenge.

Wind-turbine blades are usually huge structures, made from a complex composite of materials bonded together by a strong adhesive known as epoxy, and reinforced with fibers, making them difficult and expensive to separate and recycle.

Professor Vasileios Koutsos and Dr. Dipa Roy, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, have devised a method to turn decommissioned blade materials into powders that could be used in surface coatings to protect engineering and structural components from corrosion and erosion by the elements.

Greencoat UK Wind, an investment trust specializing in renewable energy infrastructure, provided funding for a 12-month research project to develop the process.

The coating produced would help protect new wind-turbine blades from erosion caused by raindrops and other particulates. It could also be used in the built environment, for example, to prevent corrosion on the cables of suspension bridges.

The project is being supported by the University of Edinburgh’s commercialization service, Edinburgh Innovations, who helped secure the funding.

More info edinburgh-innovations.ed.ac.uk