Material Flow Analysis Toward a More Circular Economy for Wind Turbine Blades

Elizabeth Clarkson, Danielly De Miranda Ribeiro, Sherif Khalifa, Benjamin Mastrorocco, and Dylan Au, Dr. Jason Baxter, Chemical Engineering Department, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

As our energy production begins to move toward independence from fossil fuels, wind energy has grown to the second largest renewable energy source and is responsible for generating 300 million MWh in 2019, 7.3% of total electricity demand. Wind is an abundant sustainable resource caused by air circulation of different atmospheric pressures. However, the current production method is resource intensive, with substantial amounts of virgin materials employed in turbine blade production. Experts predict 8.17 million tons of turbine blades will be disposed in US landfills by 2050. Currently, blades are made from composites that are expensive and logistically challenging to recycle, limiting the potential circularity of materials. In this project, I collaborated on an interactive python model to track the materials used for blade construction. The model is built from wind energy generation projections; users can vary recycling, reuse, and remanufacturing parameters to evaluate the impact on extracted raw materials and overall cumulative waste in different scenarios. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Elizabeth Clarkson

Institution: Drexel University

Type: Poster

Subject: Environmental Science & Sustainability

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 6
Date/Time: Tue 2:00pm-3:00pm
Session Number: 4665