A winning collaboration behind the RecyclableBlade

Madrid / 22 November 2021

While Siemens Gamesa has been committed to wind circularity for some time now, it has always proven difficult to recycle wind turbine blades in a cost-efficient way. Thanks to a close partnership with Aditya Birla Advanced Materials, Siemens Gamesa has been working diligently over the past five years to push for the development of a new resin system used in wind turbine blades. Following a step-by-step process, the collaboration has successfully materialized into commercial production of the RecyclableBlade - the world's first recyclable wind turbine blade.

Communication Specialist
As the number of installations and turbine sizes continue to increase, the call for wind circularity is becoming ever more important with some countries planning to introduce strict requirements for wind turbine’s recyclability.

As a leading company in the wind industry, Siemens Gamesa has been continually innovating and launching new longer, stiffer and aerodynamically advanced rotor blade designs that enable to harness more energy from the wind. In addition, Siemens Gamesa has been committed to sustainability and circularity in wind. Working in collaboration with Aditya Birla Advanced Materials, Siemens Gamesa pioneered wind circularity with the RecyclableBlade, the world’s first fully recyclable blade.
"It was around five years ago when we started to look into the whole idea of recyclability of materials used in the wind turbine blade," explains Harald Stecher, Blade materials engineer. "We developed a multi-generation plan that contained our ideas for future materials. This laid down a path to begin discussion on what the technical properties and sustainability requirements were for our resin development in the short, mid and long-term. And while we shared this proposal with all our resin suppliers, Aditya Birla Advanced Materials was the one who took it up and came back to us with an idea that matched our needs."
The R&D team at Aditya Birla Advanced Materials worked in close co-ordination with Siemens Gamesa’s technology team to develop a novel recyclable epoxy resin system, leveraging the company’s proprietary Recyclamine technology. “Siemens Gamesa has been our strategic partner in the wind industry. Over the years, we have worked together on several next generation resin systems that have enabled improving quality and increasing productivity in blade manufacturing. With the recyclable resin system that enables the recyclable blade, we have taken a massive leap forward to meet Siemens Gamesa’s aspiration of future materials,” said Pradip Kumar Dubey, CEO, Aditya Birla Advanced Materials.

Unlike conventional materials, the recyclable resin system enables recycling of blade and recovery of reinforcement and the resin matrix. The recovered blade materials can be reused and repurposed, bringing them back into the system and closing the loop. Furthermore, the resin has been designed for extra slow reactivity to enable improved processability and cure faster than conventional materials, thereby contributing towards lowering cycle time in blade manufacturing.

"The technology that Aditya Birla Advanced Materials developed to suit our specific requirements like long mould open time and recyclability is the one that we believe does the job in the best way," adds Jonas Pagh Jensen, Environmental specialist at Siemens Gamesa. "It not only fits our requirements but offers a low-energy demanding way of getting the materials back for new applications. This in turn translates to a far more cost-efficient process than what is available in the market today."

Importantly, the RecyclableBlade is made from a new type of resin, the blade is produced the same way as a standard blade and is based on the same IntegralBlade® manufacturing process, meaning that there is no increased implementation risk associated with the new resin system.

A value-chain approach
"When Aditya Birla Advanced Materials first presented the new resin solution to us, it was at a conceptual stage," adds Harald. "We worked with Aditya Birla Advanced Materials very closely to ensure that our requirements were fulfilled and this eventually translated to the success of the RecyclyableBlade. It was a true value-chain approach."

"From the start it was clear that Aditya Birla Advanced Materials is a very interesting development partner because they have good, in-depth knowledge of epoxy resins. They also have state-of-the-art testing facilities and labs, so they can run a lot of testing independently before they even present materials to us. On top of this, they have a big research group that responds extremely fast to whatever technical questions we raise," continues Harald.

On the successful partnership, Pradip commented: “Siemens Gamesa understood the value of Recyclamine technology and were involved with us since the beginning of development. After a year of hard work, we are glad to take this to the market! We are excited about its potential impact on the wind industry and its contribution towards a circular economy”.

The project was started in 2018 followed by validation of the recyclable resin jointly through laboratory testing and pilot trials in 2020. In early 2021, the first full-scale blades using the RecyclableBlade resin were produced by Siemens Gamesa.

The RecyclableBlade is an important step to help tackle the climate change emergency in a holistic way. “As a renewable company, we are making a daily positive impact in tackling climate change; but we want to go a step further, embedding sustainability in all our operations," commented Jonas. If we were to apply the RecyclableBlade to all global offshore projects planned until 2050, all the blades together would amount to more than 10,000,000 tons of recyclable material, or a weight similar to more than 1,600,000 elephants.

The winning collaboration between Siemens Gamesa and Aditya Birla Advanced Materials proves to be a game changer for the wind industry and is a testimony of the partnership that reinforces commitment towards sustainability.


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