Goldwind recycles wind turbine blades into 3D printing material

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At the headquarters of Goldwind, China’s first renewable energy and carbon neutral business park, flower beds have been printed from recycled solid waste from retired turbine blades – opening a new avenue for solid waste recycling. The material is made from retired turbine blades from a wind farm in Inner Mongolia. Using 3D printing robots, materials containing crushed blade particles can be preformed, promising a solid waste recycling rate of over 30%.

The technical difficulty of adding the ground blade particles into printing materials lies in maximizing the blade solid waste rate while ensuring a specific strength for the printed product.

During Goldwind’s scrap blade 3D printing trials, the researchers repeated a number of experiments and demonstrations, constantly adjusting the ratio of various raw materials, as well as the size and gradation of the particles of crushed blades. They eventually achieved a “golden ratio” that met the strength requirements of printed products while consuming maximum turbine blade solid waste, resulting in a series of material systems suitable for printing. 3D.

A wind turbine blade being transported

The mechanical properties, durability and working performance of the finished product made from these new impression materials are equal to those of conventional construction concrete.

According to Goldwind, data estimates show that China’s retired wind turbine blades will generate 5,800 tonnes of composite solid waste by 2025 – nothing compared to an estimated 74,000 tonnes by 2028. remain a long-standing problem for many companies in the industry.

As a smart, environmentally friendly and efficient construction method, solid waste 3D printing, compared to traditional construction technologies, has no molds, lower labor costs, more efficient material consumption, increased design freedom, greater construction efficiency, and lower risk to personnel safety, especially in the construction of uniquely shaped structures.

On the other hand, since wind power projects are mainly scattered in the more remote areas of China, the cost of transporting recyclable materials to various places accounts for a large part of recycling costs. Another advantage of 3D printing from solid waste is that it allows integration into other construction projects around the wind farm thanks to its applicability. With the help of mobile 3D printing robots, solid waste from wind turbine blades can be used for local production and consumption, reducing long-distance transportation costs.

Goldwind recycles wind turbine blades into 3D printing material.  Use of crushed blade particles from retired turbine blades.
Flowerbeds, at Goldwind’s China headquarters, 3D printed using recycled solid waste from retired turbine blades

“Garbage is simply mismanaged resources. The original intention behind our decision to develop such technology was to change our position from a solid waste producer of blades to a supplier of raw materials for solid waste-based 3D printing, using the vast construction market to enable greater consumption of materials after recycling the blades. and give full play to the decisive role of the market in resource allocation, so that environmental protection can be more valuable,” said the project leader. “Our ultimate vision is to boost the development of China’s green industry with innovative green technologies and create a complete industrial chain for blade solid waste which is characterized by local recycling, local crushing, material screening, solid waste-based 3D printing and product manufacturing.”

In “Wind Power in China 2021”, Goldwind published a white paper titled “Goldwind Towards Carbon Neutrality: Action and Vision”, highlighting that “by 2040, the recycling rate of Goldwind products will reach 100%”. Applying bladed solid waste 3D printing is a crucial step in such a program.

By continuing to invest in recycling wind energy, Goldwind plans to explore more innovative low-carbon technologies and the systematic application of solutions to accelerate a carbon-neutral ecosystem – towards a renewable, carbon-free future.