Company operating in Iowa diverts turbine blades from landfills through recycling

Company operating in Iowa diverts turbine blades from landfills through recycling.
Company operating in Iowa diverts turbine blades from landfills through recycling.(KCRG)
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 5:25 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Wind turbine blades ranging from the size of a human to blades weighing 25 tons are heading to Marengo. Vestas is behind the operation, the company is recycling turbine blades from all over the country.

”Before these programs existed was really that they were landfilled,” said Grady Howell, Program Manager for recycling program at Vestas.

The goal is to divert as much from landfills as possible. Howell says the lifespan on a turbine blade is 25 to 30 years, but sometimes it can be shorter.

”The blade has either been damaged or reached end of life or what have you and then we’ll come out and take care of them,” said Howell.

Once a turbine blade arrives at the site in Marengo it’s cut down in size. The company then grinds the blades up and the material is used to help make cement.

”It is then shipped to the cement co processor and that’s what used to offset the fossil fuels that they use to create their cement,” Howell explained.

He says the blades are typically made out of composites, balsa wood, and carbon fiber.

A process is being tested that would recycle the blades back into a woven fiberglass mat which could be used to make more turbine blades. But for now, Vestas says this technique they started using commercially last year is working to reroute from landfills all across the U.S.

”There’s just a massive problem with these going to landfill and you know just being left on wind farms and whatnot and we saw that and we wanted to be able to help,” said Howell.