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Wind turbine blade recycling project powers up in the UK

Posted on 23 May 2022 and read 847 times
Wind turbine blade recycling project powers up in the UKPhoto courtesy of the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre

A pioneering new project to develop Britain's first wind turbine blade recycling pilot plant and save millions of tonnes of waste has kicked off with a visit to the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre (LMC) – a specialist centre within the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) Group.

Project PRoGrESS is a £2 million, three-year scheme, that is part-funded by Innovate UK and leading industry partner Aker Offshore Wind, and seeks to deliver a circular model for wind turbine blades to support the UK's ambitious climate change targets. Led in Scotland, it will benefit the wider UK economy and create green jobs.

Partners in the world-leading scheme met for two days at The University of Strathclyde's Advanced Composites Group (ACG) facilities and the LMC, as work starts on the three-year project. At present, when wind turbine blades reach the end of their working lives there are only two options - send them to landfill or to waste-to-energy plants where they are combusted.

Project PRoGrESS aims to commercialise a revolutionary method developed by the University of Strathclyde, separating glass-fibre and resin components in composites to recover the glass-fibre component, which can then be reprocessed, moulded and reused.

The project is overseen by Composites UK, with the expertise of researchers at the University of Strathclyde, the LMC, University of Nottingham, SUEZ recycling and recovery in the UK, composites distributor GRP Solutions and composite part manufacturer, Cubis.

Sarah Lord, sustainability projects delivery manager at Composites UK, said: “We are excited to see Project PRoGrESS officially up and running. It is fantastic for both the steering group and project group to meet up in person in Glasgow at such an exciting time for PRoGrESS. It is a great opportunity for our joint hosts ACG and LMC to demonstrate key aspects of their technological excellence with our commercial partners Aker, GRP Solutions, Cubis and SUEZ.

Liu Yang, head of the ACG at the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering, said: “It is a great pleasure to meet all of our partners at the campus and showcase what we are doing in the area of composites recycling and sustainability. We are strongly committed to this partnership and are looking forward to working together."

Zhe Liu, Sustainability Lead at the LMC, concluded: “Through this project, we are looking forward to supporting the wind sector's approach to ‘net zero’. Our knowledge and skills bring benefits to the partnership along the whole supply chain, including sustainable design and manufacturing, re-manufacturing and end-of-life recycling.”