Today’s Solutions: October 26, 2021

While a rapidly growing wind energy industry is a positive sign for our transition toward carbon-free energy sources, there is a disadvantage to all this growth: more waste. The blades on wind turbines only have a lifespan of about 20 years, so older decommissioned wind turbine blades from early wind energy installations are starting to pile up in landfills.

Repurposing these blades is difficult for a couple of reasons. To start with, their large size makes transporting them expensive and complicated. Secondly, the blades are made of fiberglass, a durable yet non-biodegradable material that is terribly hard to recycle.

To address the growing waste issue of old wind turbine blades, a group of researchers from the US, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland have been looking for ways to incorporate them into civil engineering projects. The group of researchers is organized under the name Re-Wind, and their goal is to use old blades to construct large structures such as bridges, roads, and buildings.

Recently, Re-Wind received three 40-foot-long blades from a wind farm in Belfast. The researchers are currently studying the blades’ structural integrity at the Cork Institute of Technology, and if they hold up to scrutiny, the hope is to build a footbridge out of them in Ireland. More specifically, the blades would be used in place of the standard steel girders.

In the US, the researchers are teaming up with an electric power company to see if wind turbine blades can be repurposed into power towers. Having already secured three blades for that project, the aim is to use the blades to build on a wind farm in Kansas by next summer.

Re-Wind doesn’t plan to stop there. Back in 2018, the researchers published a paper with more than 20 suggestions for how the blades could be used. From building skate parks and stadium bleachers to constructing noise barriers, Re-Wind believes there is far more we can do with old blades than just tossing them in the landfill. Let’s hope they’re right!

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

6 Foods for eye health that aren’t carrots

These days, many of us spend a lot of time straining our eyes by staring at screens. Unfortunately, cutting back on screen time may be difficult, especially if work demands that we work on our ... Read More

This wooden steak knife is three times stronger than steel

Scientists from the University of Maryland may have discovered a more eco-friendly alternative to ceramics and stainless steel for our knives and nails by figuring out how to chemically alter wood so that it can ... Read More

Newly discovered properties of cannabis could help prevent seizures

Cannabis has been used to battle against disease throughout history, with the component cannabidiol (CBD) becoming an accepted treatment for many disorders including epilepsy, anxiety, and more. However, cannabis contains many other cannabinoids which have ... Read More

Candy to costumes: 6 ways to make your Halloween more sustainable

Halloween is just around the corner, and many families are excited to celebrate the holiday in full force for the first time in two years. Last year we shared how to sustainably dispose of post-holiday ... Read More

These crafty activists flock together and stitch canaries for climate change

Over the past few months, residents in the UK would have had the chance to spot more than 70 “flocks” of UK crafters that have been gathering across the nation as a way to encourage ... Read More

The future of eco-friendly laundry detergent is in dissolvable sheets

While laundry pods are supposed to be biodegradable, wastewater treatment plants often don’t have the capacity to create the necessary conditions to dissolve them. As a result, the material in question (polyvinyl alcohol) typically ends ... Read More