Performance of discontinuous aligned glass fibre mat and wet-laid non-woven material from recycled wind turbines

Liu, Zhe and Awang Ngah, Shamsiah and Mills, James A. and Turner, Thomas A. (2023) Performance of discontinuous aligned glass fibre mat and wet-laid non-woven material from recycled wind turbines. In: The 23rd International Conference on Composite Materials, 2023-07-31 - 2023-08-04, The ICC Belfast. (

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There is an urgent need for high-value recycling routes for Glass Reinforced Polymer composites (GRP). GRP scrap will increase with End-of-Life (EoL) wind turbine blades likely to reach over 20,000 tonnes/yr. in the UK by the mid-2030s.WindEurope's call for a ban on the landfill of decommissioned wind turbine blades by 2025 adds greater pressure for new recycling options. Recyclability and recycled content are equally important in construction and automotive. While increased durability and lower weight make GRP products more sustainable in the long term, limited recycling options are already damaging the GRP industry. WindEurope, Cefic and EuCIA strongly endorse reprocessing composite waste to produce higher-value recyclates enabling the production of new composites as essential as we move to a more circular economy. The developed alignment process allows discontinuous random recycled glass fibre to be processed into mats with a highly aligned orientation distribution. This allows composites with high fibre content to be manufactured at lower moulding pressures with the added benefit of keeping fibre length degradation to a minimum. The Wetlaid process has also been used to convert the fluffy fibre to a nonwoven material which is a format close to the traditional short glass fibre materials. The research work has been focused on understanding the feasibility of processing recycled glass fibre with the alignment process and Wetlaid system. In addition, early-stage mechanical testing has been done which indicates 3 mm fibre wetlaid nonwoven gave a 60.9 MPa tensile strength and 4.8 GPa tensile modulus. Through the same vacuum infusion process, the laminate made with 70wt% of 3 mm fibre and 30wt% 6mm fibre nonwoven can achieve 12.1% fibre volume content and obtain 56.63 MPa tensile strength and 4.98 GPa tensile modulus.