Composites Today

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Project to create glass fibre yarns from recycled wind turbine blades enters in phase 2

TPI Composites, Inc., (US) announced that it has moved to the second phase of development with the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UT) in creation of glass fibre yarns from end-of-life wind blades. The completion of the second phase will create new opportunities for materials reclaimed from decommissioned blades.

The recycled materials enable higher value intermediate forms of glass fibre and create a viable market that is both environmentally and economically sustainable. The current challenge of recycled glass fiber is that applications for randomly oriented discontinuous fibre are generally limited to non-structural components or thermal insulation where the value is significantly lower than the cost of recovery. Steve Nolet, TPI’s Senior Director of Innovation and Technology said, “Phase I focused on using simple hand operated textile methods; after multiple trials with varying fibre length, twist rate, and mechanical testing we learned the importance of hybridization with synthetic polymer fibre.”

In Phase II, the UT team will use industrial textile manufacturing methods and equipment to scale the process and focus on ideal filament length, ratio of glass to synthetic fibre, and other process variables that optimize the properties of the recycled yarn. With additional scaling of prototype yarns, downstream processing including conversion to woven and non-woven broad goods or filament wound plates will be accomplished. These materials will then be processed with commercial resins to formulate composite plates for mechanical testing. Generating material properties of different composite configurations will identify applications appropriate for the recovered materials.

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