Old wind turbine blades could be turned into candy, a new study suggests.
Scientists have made a new material for making wind turbine blades that can be recycled into many objects and even edible candies.
Dr John Dorgan and his team at Michigan State University in the United States combined glass fibers with a plant-derived polymer and a synthetic polymer to create the new material.
New blades can be recycled into more blades or into other materials that can be used to make countertops, sinks, car taillights, laptop sleeves, diapers and gummy bears.
What they create depends on how scientists manipulate the material.
Using an alkaline solution, the new material, a composite resin, can be made into candies and sports drinks.
Dr Dorgan said: ‘We scavenged food grade potassium lactate and used it to make gummy bear candies.
He added: “What I ate.”
Eating the sweet treat himself shows Dorgan’s confidence in their safety as well as their flavor.
He said: “A carbon atom derived from a plant, such as corn or grass, is no different from a carbon atom derived from a fossil fuel.
“It’s all part of the global carbon cycle, and we’ve shown that we can go from biomass on the ground to sustainable plastic materials and back to food.”
With some wind turbines reaching the length of half a football field, that could be a lot of gummy bears.
But the possibility of this new material does not stop there. In addition to making candies, an alkaline solution can be used to make car windows and taillights, and by mixing the material with different minerals, they can make stone, which can be used to make counters and sinks.
Dr Dorgan said: “We recently made a bathroom sink with the cultured stone, so we know it works.”
Although some companies have found ways to recycle fiberglass blades, they normally end up in landfill when they reach the end of their shelf life.
Experts believe this situation could get worse, as blades are constantly being replaced and discarded.
Dr Dorgan said: ‘Bigger wind turbine blades are more efficient, so companies keep making bigger and bigger ones.
“Often, wind farms actually replace wind turbine blades before the end of their lifespan because the farms can generate more electricity with larger blades.”
That’s why the success of Dr. Dorgan’s team could make a real difference in the sustainability of wind turbines.
Dr Dorgan said: “The beauty of our resin system is that at the end of its use cycle we can dissolve it, and that frees it from whatever matrix it’s in so that it can be used over and over again in an infinite loop. ‘
The team, which presented their findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago, now aims to make medium-sized blades to put their findings to the test.
However, the team has a problem. The supply of bioplastic they need is limited.
Dr Dorgan added: ‘The current limitation is that there is not enough bioplastic that we are using to satisfy this market, so there must be a considerable volume of production coming online if we really want to start manufacturing. wind turbines from these materials. ‘
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