GE plans to recycle the majority of its blades that are replaced during re-powering efforts.
Project partner Veolia North America (VNA) is to process the blades for use as a raw material for cement, utilising a cement kiln co-processing technology.
Bob Cappadona, chief operating officer for VNA’s environmental solutions and services division, says: “By adding wind turbine blades — which are primarily made of fibreglass — to replace raw materials for cement manufacturing, we are reducing the amount of coal, sand and minerals that are needed to produce the cement, ultimately resulting in greener cement that can be used for a variety of products. Last summer we completed a trial using a GE blade, and we were very happy with the results. This fall we have processed more than 100 blades so far, and our customers have been very pleased with the product.”
As a part of the agreement, blades that have been removed from turbines will be shredded at VNA's processing facility in Missouri and then used as a replacement for coal, sand and clay at cement manufacturing facilities across the US.
On average, nearly 90% of the blade material, by weight, will be reused as a re-purposed engineered material for cement production.
According to GE, more than 65% of the blade weight replaces raw materials that would otherwise be added to the kiln to create the cement, and about 28% of the blade weight provides energy for the chemical reaction in the kiln.
Anne McEntee, CEO of GE's digital services business, says VNA's offering “provides the opportunity to scale up and deploy quickly in North America, with minimum disruption to customers and significant benefit to the environment”.