Iowa Company Begins Recycling Turbine Blades

by Brian Wilson
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A new eastern Iowa business will soon start recycling wind turbine blades to prevent the massive fiberglass, wood and foam blades from taking up large amounts of landfill space. Jeff Woods, director of business development at Travero, says the blades have to be handled very carefully when they’re removed from the towers, as each blade weighs between eight and ten tons. 

Those fibers can be used in things like mortar and concrete to reinforce sidewalks, roads and floors. The balsa wood and foam inside the blades can also find new life. 

Travero owns REGEN Fiber which has developed what Woods calls an eco-friendly process to convert decommissioned wind turbine blades into reusable materials. A REGEN Fiber factory is being built in the Cedar Rapids suburb of Fairfax to recycle the blades. Specially-trained crews will be dispatched to take apart wind turbines, as the blades have about a 20-year lifespan. 

While Iowa has built a national reputation for both manufacturing and using wind turbines, Woods hopes this new venture will build on that reputation to also recycle the blades after they’ve served their purpose. He notes the company should have plenty of business for years to come. 

Once the Fairfax factory is in full swing, the goal is to recycle more than 30-thousand tons of shredded blade material every year. REGEN Fiber is already recycling blade materials at a facility in Des Moines. Travero is owned by Alliant Energy Corporation. 

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