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    Yes! Respecting the environment doesn't stop with delivering clean, renewable energy to our customers. It also means doing everything we can to recycle and repurpose any and all of our equipment, including turbine blades. 

    When wind turbine blades become worn or outdated, we replace them with new, larger blades that can generate even more electricity. But, those old blades can still be used in other ways. Nearly all of the components that make up a turbine blade can be recycled or salvaged, and the rest can be repurposed. Find out how it's done! 

    So, how are turbine blades recycled?

    MidAmerican Crew taking down a wind turbine

    Turbine blades are mainly composed of metal, balsa wood and fiberglass. Metal components such as iron, steel or copper are valuable scrap materials. Balsa wood in a turbine blade is burned to generate heat needed for processes like pyrolysis – the extraction of glass fiber from the rest of the shredded blade remnants. Fiberglass, once extracted and processed, has a number of uses. The following steps help us get what we need to re-purpose the recycled pieces.

    Cut it fine
    When a blade is removed for recycling, it needs to be cut down into sections for easier transportation. Our crews and contractors use wet-cutting tools and containment equipment to minimize fiberglass dust in the air and being left behind on the ground.

     
    MidAmerican employee cutting a wind turbine blade and Recycled

    Strip it down
    Once the blade’s been cut for transport and arrived at a sorting facility, each section is dismantled to separate the different materials and prepare them for their next destination. The smaller, nonmetallic sections are shredded to reduce in size further. Depending on what the shredded materials will be used for, the final result could be as fine as a powder!

     

    Begin anew
    Once the blade contents are processed accordingly, the recovered materials are provided to manufacturers for use as raw material or to be upcycled for a variety of second-generation products.

    recycling icon

    Recycle and Re-Use

    Our recycling partners work with manufacturers that use recycled fiberglass for items such as:

    • 3D printer filament
    • automotive parts
    • sports equipment
    • boats
    • cement kiln fuel additives
    • binding agents for concrete mixes
     

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