Decommissioning wind turbine blades (WTB) effectively is a crucial stage to enable recycling of the materials and thus circularity. With its core activities in the development of flexible cutting tools and de-coating techniques, Aitiip plays a relevant role in this stage of the end-of-life process of WTBs. Being also the coordinator of the EoLO-HUBS project, Aitiip is now sharing the first insights into their technologies that enable smooth and impactful decommissioning.

Water-jet cutting
This is a powerful and versatile industrial process that uses a high-pressure stream of water, or a mixture of water and abrasive materials, to cut a wide variety of materials. The pressurized water stream is concentrated through a tiny nozzle to erode and cut metals, plastics, hard rock or even glass. One of its key features is that it doesn’t generate heat, making it ideal for materials sensitive to heat distortion or damage. It also has a reduced environmental impact compared to most methods and prevents the production of dust for a healthier work environment.

Image 1: Water-jet test specimens of a WTB from EoLO-HUBs. Narrow and clean cuts minimize material waste and are effective on composite materials.

Aitiip uses its experience in aeronautics recycling, where they have already developed water-jet based cutting systems, with their knowledge of robotics to develop a custom portable automatic cutting system for wind turbine blades (WTB). The aim of this system is to cut the WTB sections in to easier-to-handle pieces with two main purposes:

  • To fit the size/shape of the later recycling processes.
  • To separate fractions of different materials for different end-of-life routes.

WTB’s are covered with special coatings often involving plastics and resins for weathering and UV protection of the blade. Removing this layer during the decommissioning stage is important because:

  • “Cleaning” the materials underneath to be recycled.
  • The coating itself has the potential to be recycled if properly removed.

Aitiip follows two approaches for this process:

  • Mechanical: Blasting the surface with abrasive agents.
  • Chemical: Dissolving the coating with green solvents to induce peeling/stripping.

In the project, the effectiveness of each process and the potential to recover the coating materials will be assessed in order to develop a process that allows the recovery of materials to be recycled and that environmentally outperforms the current solutions.

To learn more about the decommissioning stage of WTBs, check out the Flow Chart of TNO summarizing the life cycle of WTBs from cradle to cradle. To learn more about Aitiip and their technologies check out their website here or reach out to Javier Perez (