Strathclyde accelerates recycling of glass fibre products

A new collaboration between the University of Strathclyde and Aker Offshore Wind and Aker Horizons will see old wind turbine blades recycled and reused.

The three organisations are working together to drive forward recovery processes for used glass fibre products, including a novel process developed at Strathclyde. Glass-reinforced polymer composites (GRP), used in wind turbine blades around the world, is recognised as a hard-to-break-down source of pollution with almost all thermoset GRP scrap generated in the UK and Europe currently going to landfill.

The volume of GRP scrap is set to increase substantially, with end-of-life wind turbine blades likely to be a major source of GRP scrap in the UK by mid-2030s. Without action, Strathclyde predicts a global increase of wind turbine blade waste from around 400,000 tons per annum in 2030 to around two million tons by 2050. Therefore, recyclability and recycled content are increasingly important in construction processes. In many cases increased durability and lower weight would also make GRP a more sustainable solution in the long term.