Turning wind turbine blades into gummy bears

Circular economy Renewables

United States – New composite material for wind turbine blades has been created by Michigan State University researchers. This material can be recycled and used to make gummy bears among other things.

Thermoplastic resin, created by researchers at Michigan State University, blends glass fibers with both natural and artificial polymers.

The American Chemical Society (ACS), at whose fall meeting the researchers presented their study, said in a press statement that panels constructed of this thermoplastic resin were sturdy and resilient enough to be utilized in turbines or cars.

Making sweets

When poly(methyl methacrylate, or PMMA) is digested from thermoplastic resin in an alkaline solution, it is produced for use in windows, automobile taillights, and other products. PMMA was changed into poly(methacrylic acid), a super-absorbent polymer used in diapers, by raising the digestion’s temperature. Potassium lactate, which can be refined and turned into candies and sports drinks, was also created by the alkaline digestion.

John Dorgan, Ph.D. said during ACS meeting: “A carbon atom derived from a plant, like corn or grass, is no different from a carbon atom that came from a fossil fuel. It’s all part of the global carbon cycle, and we’ve shown that we can go from biomass in the field to durable plastic materials and back to foodstuffs.”

Now that the researchers have proved that the material has adequate physical qualities for wind turbines, they plan to manufacture some medium sized blades for field testing.