MTC participating in EoLO-HUBS to bring circularity to end of life wind turbine blades

Technologies to recycle high value parts from wind turbine blades are to be developed in EoLO-HUBS, a €10m EU project involving experts from the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

Coventry-based MTC is one of three UK organisations taking part in EoLO-HUBS, a four-year project aiming to recover glass and carbon fibres from large wind turbine structures that have reached the end of their life.

Dr Helen Elkington, who is leading the MTC laser team in the project, said: “Renewable energy sources, such as wind, play a critical role in the future of the planet. To deliver these sustainably it is essential that the full circular economy of the materials used is considered."

The project is being coordinated by the Aitiip Technology Centre in Zaragoza, Spain, and involves a total of 18 partners from across Europe, including the research divisions of several leading companies.

Europe accounts for over 70 per cent of all wind power installed globally, but the growth of wind since the 1990s is starting to pose some environmental problems associated with the end-of-life management of wind farms.


"Wind turbines are made of a combination of different materials such as wood, metals, adhesives, coatings, and fibre-reinforced polymer. The recycling of polymeric end-of-life composite is very challenging,” said Dr Sundar Marimuthu, technical specialist from the MTC. “Recycling fibre-reinforced polymer normally comes with the undesirable side-effect of 'downgrading', ending as a raw material only suitable for low-quality applications. As a result, most of this end-of-life composite currently goes to landfill or incineration."

EoLO-HUBs’ main focus will be on decommissioning and pre-treatment of wind turbine blades, including handling, non-destructive inspection tools, cutting, shredding, and sorting; sustainable fibre reclamation processes address two alternative technologies, namely low carbon pyrolysis and green chemistry solvolysis; and upgrading processes for the recovered fibres, addressing glass fibres and carbon fibres.

A knowledge hub will be set up with a digital platform providing a circular economy framework to enable the replication of the project approach for wind turbine blade recycling, as well as accurate identification of raw materials.

EoLO-HUBS’ partners include ECHT Regie in Transitie B.V. (Netherlands), Nordex Energy GmhH (Germany), Moses Productos SL (Spain), Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials GmbH (Germany), Teruel Airport (Spain), Advantis APS (Denmark), Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung E.V. (Fraunhofer Society, Germany), Jansen Recycling Group B.V. (Netherlands), Mondragon Goi Eskola Politeknikoa Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta S Coop (MGEP, Spain), Saint-Gobain Placo Iberica SA (Spain), Global Equity & Corporate Consulting SL (Spain), TNO Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research and its joint innovation centre Brightlands Materials Center (Netherlands), Centro Ricerche Fiat SCPA (Italy), Polymeris (France), plus the UK’s National Composites Centre and Leeds University.