Research presented at the international meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Chicago demonstrates a new resin system that can be dissolved and reused without losing its initial properties.
Although wind energy is clean and renewable, the fact that wind turbines (made of fiberglass) are not recyclable is a problem when they reach the end of their life. Usually, giant turbine blades end up in landfills.
As Dorgan says in a press release to EurekAlert, “Wind farms often replace turbine blades before the end of their useful life because farms can generate more electricity with larger blades.”
To solve this problem, efforts have been made to create blades that can contribute to the circular economy, breathing new life into a particular product. In this regard, scientists from Michigan State University have already made a small contribution.
Recyclable resin can be used to make erasers
The concept seems very strange in practice, but it could be very close to becoming a reality on supermarket shelves, in the form of jelly beans. what is certain is that this resin can be recycled and reused in many other ways, including in windows or diapers.
Thermoplastic resin, made from fiberglass and plant-derived polymers and other synthetic materials, is very strong and durable., just like the materials used in today’s turbines. Even so, the blades, when they reach the end of their life cycle, can be used to dissolve resin and remove fiberglass. The material can be used in new turbines because, according to the Michigan researchers, the physical properties are the same as turbines made from new materials.
This new resin can be made into various things after fusing. Its reuse can occur in some consumable products, such as erasers, which makes this fact even more curious. And what is more interesting, these gums are not different from those that we are used to consuming, according to the researchers.
“A carbon atom derived from a plant, like corn, is not unlike a carbon atom from a fossil fuel. It’s all part of the global carbon cycle and we’ve shown that we can go from field biomass to plastic materials.” and vice versa. to food,” says Dorgan.
So what is this thermoplastic resin?
When the thermoplastic resin is diluted in an alkaline solution, an acrylic material is released that can facilitate the production of windows. It also increases the temperature during the process, which helps create a material used in diapers. The rest, the alkaline solution also releases potassium lactate, which can be converted into candy or energy drinks after purification.
After validating the material for the properties necessary for its reuse, Now we will try to understand specifically how wind turbines can be (re)built from this new resin..