Institut für Energietechnik (IET)



As the first multi-megawatt wind turbines start to reach the end of their lives and need to be dismantled, recycling solutions are becoming more and more important. The blades of a wind turbine are a critical and costly component of a wind turbine system. They can be up to 100 m long and are made mainly of glass fibre composites, and the current most common dismantling method is currently incineration , which leaves behind 60% of the scrap as (polluting) ash. Attempts at recycling include grinding and reusing (REACT consortium), which has proven difficult due to worries about recyclate quality, as well as chemical recovery through solvolysis (ReFiber ApS, Denmark), which retains most of the tensile strength of the glass fibre, however utilizes aggressive and hazardous chemicals and is very expensive. Some research has gone into alternative materials for wind turbine blades which are easier to recycle, such as thermoplastic matrix composites (NAReC, UK), bamboo and bio-based adhesive (DTU, Denmark), PET foam (Alcan Airex) as well as flax (University of Cambridge) . Up until now, however, no suitable solution has been found in terms of stiffness, strength, manufacturability and costs.


The goals of this project are (1) to design a more environmentally-friendy megawatt size wind turbine rotor blade that fulfills the relevant stiffness, strength, manufacturability and cost requirements as far as possible, and (2) to build and test a small-scale demonstration rotor on an operating wind turbine.


We are currently in the process of testing composites made out of a combination of linseed oil and flax fibres!


This is an internally-funded project between IET and IWK at HSR.


Dr. Sarah Barber
Oberseestrasse 10
CH-8640 Rapperswil SG
+41 (0)55 222 42 62