Although wind turbines are an essential part of the sustainable energy transition, they only have a limited lifespan. After an average of 20 years, it is inevitable that they will be dismantled and disposed of. But they don’t have to simply become waste, there are also recycling options. The US startup Regen Fiber focuses precisely on this area, it transforms wind turbine blades into reinforcing fibers that increase the strength and durability of concrete and mortar.
Recycling without the use of chemicals
Based in Iowa, USA, the company also manufactures microfibers and additives from wind blade components. These should be loud Electrek in a range of composite, concrete and soil stabilization applications. Recycling rotor blades without the use of heat or chemicals while avoiding landfill or incineration aims to support the sustainability goals of both the wind industry and the customers who receive the recycled products.
“With tremendous growth forecast for the wind industry and more and more turbines reaching the end of their useful lives, Regen Fiber comes at just the right time,” said Jeff Woods, director of business development at logistics company Travero, of which Regen Fiber is a part . In 2021, the young company started the pilot project and the cooperation with the concrete industry.
Regen Fiber plans to operate on a commercial scale
In the second half of 2023, the young company wants to start recycling rotor blades on a commercial scale. A new facility is under construction in Fairfax, southwest of Cedar Rapids. Once commercial operations at Fairfax reach full production levels, Regen Fiber expects to recycle in excess of 30,000 tonnes of shredded rotor blades annually.
The startup is already recycling scrap from the manufacture of new wind turbine blades on a commercial scale at its Des Moines facility. This waste is processed into fibers that can be used in asphalt and composite products. The parent company Travero, which has its own fleet of trucks, transports the turbine blades and the finished recycling products across North America.