Wind Turbine Blades May One Day Become Gummy Bears

Wind Turbine Blades May One Day Become Gummy Bears
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What is happening

Scientists propose making wind turbine blades from a new material that could be turned into countless common items.

Why is it important?

Standard wind turbine blades made of fiberglass are difficult and expensive to recycle, so the retired equipment usually ends up in a landfill.

Even wind power — the most established method of generating clean energy — has an Achilles’ heel.

Wind-powered sky towers are topped with huge turbine blades, and these blades must be replaced frequently. Thus, a large amount of old equipment must be disposed of, and in recent years Experts debated whether there was such an annihilation meets ecologically clean criteria.

Simply put, the concern is whether the wind turbine blades are recyclable. If not, perhaps tossing used blades into landfills negates the supposed sustainability of the system in the first place. But it is a difficult situation. These knives are usually made of fiberglass, which is a really tough material cut, move and transform into other things.

Although some experts have had success in recycling the energy-harvesting tool US startup Global Fiberglas Solutionswhich uses them to create raw materials for 3D printing, statistics show that most of the timeartifacts are simply added to trash heaps It emits harmful gases into the atmosphere and interferes with natural wildlife. Why? It’s cheaper in the end.

However, on Monday, scientists at Michigan State University have proposed innovative road plans to solve this problem. They developed a new form of wind turbine material that combines glass fibers with synthetic polymers, both plant-based and long molecular chains. The mixture is called composite resin, and the hype is that it can be recycled more easily than pure fiberglass.

Oh, and here’s the best part: it can also be made into delicious gummy bears.

John Dorgan, “The beauty of our resin system is that at the end of the use cycle we can dissolve it, which frees it from whatever matrix it’s in so it can be reused over and over again in an endless loop.” The chemical engineer from MSU, who will present the work of the team at the autumn meeting of the American Chemical Society, said in a press release. “That’s what the circular economy is all about.”

Converting turbines to treatment

Essentially, the team’s new resin can be broken down into its component parts once the job is complete, like the structure of a wind turbine. Crucially, this means that hard-to-manage bits of fiberglass can be removed. Then, the resulting rod is used to power new wind turbines, as well as a wide selection from other materials. And I mean broadly.

It just depends on which of the ingredients of the mixture you decide to extract and manipulate.

When the researchers digested the resin in an alkaline solution, they obtained an acrylic substance that could be used, for example, in making glass and car taillights. Raise the temperature during digestion and instead get a super absorbent polymer often used in making diapers.

This resin can also be reincarnated as home countertops when mixed with various minerals. “We recently did a bathroom sink with mined stone, so we know it works,” Dorgan said. Also, the soluble material can be combined with plastics, leading to more luxurious items such as laptop covers and power tools.

“We recovered food-grade potassium lactate and used it to make gummy bear candies that I ate,” Dorgan said. Not a Haribo fan? Sports drinks such as Gatorade can also be made from this chemical.

On the left is a red, blocky looking gummy bear.  On the right is the yellow version.

The composite resin, suitable for making wind turbine blades, can be made into a variety of products, including gummy bears like this one.

John Dorgan

If you’re sick of the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčeating a gummy version of an old wind turbine or a fruity drink mix, Dorgan points out that “a carbon atom from a plant like corn or grass is no different than a carbon atom from a fossil fuel…all of that is part of the global carbon cycle, and we’ve shown we can transition from biomass in the field to sustainable plastic materials and back to food.”

However, it should also be noted that the team has only produced a prototype of their invention so far. To go from prototype to final product, Dorgan explained, there’s a bit of a limitation: “We don’t have enough bioplastics to supply this market, so there has to be enough production volume online. We’re going to start making wind turbines out of these materials.”

But if that barrier is removed, we could be entering an era where our Macbook cases, iPhone charging cables, sturdy kitchenware, and even our gelatin snacks are covered in the remains of a veteran knife that once lived in the clouds.

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