A coalition of industry and academic leaders is developing a novel technology to enable circularity for thermoset composites, the material is used to make wind turbine blades. The new technology delivers the final technological step on the journey towards a fully recyclable wind turbine value chain. To enable the adoption of this new technology a new initiative entitled CETEC (Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites) has been established. Within three years, CETEC is aiming to present a fully scoped solution ready for industrial adoption, based on commercialisation of this novel circular technology.
CETEC is a joint project partly funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark (IFD), combining the technological expertise of the Danish Technological Institute (DTI), the Aarhus University, Olin, and Vestas, the global leader in sustainable energy solutions.
The new technology consists of a two-step process. Firstly, thermoset composites are disassembled into fibre and epoxy. Secondly, through a novel chemical recycling process, the epoxy is further broken up into base components similar to virgin materials. These materials can then be reintroduced into the manufacturing of new turbine blades, constituting a new circularity pathway for epoxy resins. Wind power plants are 85-90% recyclable, with turbine blade material currently constituting the remaining percentage that today can only be downcycled, due to the nature of thermoset composites. CETEC is aiming to close this recycling gap and enable a significant step forward in the elimination of waste across the wind energy industry.
CETEC’s solution holds significant potential for commercial value capture, particularly in industries where regulation around waste management for manufacturing industries is tightening to serve a broader sustainability agenda. When fully developed, the solution may also have an impact for other industries that rely on thermoset composite in production, such as automotive and aviation.