START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Wait, What?! Wind Turbines Made From Vegetables?


Green Lifestyle  (tags: eco-friendly, energy, environment, CoolStuff, conservation, business, green, greenproducts, health, organic, recycling, Sustainabililty, sustainable, technology, protection )

JL
- 512 days ago - takepart.com
Researchers are looking for a way to make wind turbine blades biodegradable.



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

Comments

JL A. (269)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 7:38 am

Wait, What?! Wind Turbines Made From Vegetables?
Researchers are looking for a way to make wind turbine blades biodegradable.
By Jenna Shapiro
November 16, 2012
Comment
Wait, What?! Wind Turbines Made From Vegetables?
(Photo: Getty Images)

Wind energy is arguably the future of renewable energy, but there’s something about it that really blows. The fast-growing industry has a dark, non-recyclable underbelly—the physical components of wind turbines are made from petroleum-based resins and end up rotting in landfills.

As more wind turbines are built, more used, football-field-sized turbine blades are being thrown out. To combat this wastefulness, the National Science Foundation has given the University of Massachusetts Lowell a $1.9 million grant to solve the wind industry’s giant problem by engineering biodegradable wind turbine blades.

Professor Christopher Niezrecki, of the UMass Lowell Wind Energy Research Group, will lead the research effort to construct these blades of the future. They plan on using “bio-based polymers,” such as vegetable oil, to construct their new turbines.

MORE: Op-Ed: The Importance of Educating About Renewable Energy
Take Action! Tell Congress to Move Beyond Oil

“One of the things we’re looking at is to replace petroleum-based resins with sustainable resins. We’re going to find a new material that has the same properties as the current ones,” said Niezrecki to TakePart.

One challenge is making sure that these eco-friendly blades can withstand harsh weather conditions, all while being competitively priced. Niezrecki added: “The objective is to have them be either the same cost or less. If they’re more expensive, the question is do they add so much value that people will use them instead? We have to make sure whatever we develop is cost effective. There are lots of challenges. It’s not an easy problem to solve.”

Creating biodegradable blades is all the more prudent given how quickly the wind industry is growing.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Program has a goal to provide 20 percent of America’s electricity through wind power by 2030. Fourteen states have wind energy projects and six of those states receive over 10 percent of their electricity from wind power. This current wind energy set-up sequesters almost 79 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and provides over 75,000 jobs.
Related Gallery
patagonia glacier meltspatagonia glacier meltspatagonia glacier meltspatagonia glacier melts
10 Rapidly Vanishing Environmental Wonders
Book your ticket now to see these natural wonders—before they're gone forever.
See Full Gallery

Currently the United States has enough wind turbines to power 12 million homes, and that number continues to grow—and by 2030 Niezrecki estimates that the U.S. would be purging over 34,000 blades annually.

Considering that those blades usually end up either end up incinerated or in landfills, this does not look good for the “clean energy” wind industry. Using biodegradable wind turbine blades would make the industry even more environmentally-friendly by eliminating waste from landfills.

The wind industry is here to stay, but hopefully the blades are not.

Do you think your home will ever be powered by wind turbine made of vegetables?
 

Kit B. (277)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 7:45 am

There will probably be nay-Sayers, that attach a comment to this but this use of petroleum and the size of the blades has long been a problem for those us who advocate for use of wind technology that will improve our use of sustainable energy. This is problem is search of real solutions. Let's just hope this research will produce solid results, quickly.
 

JL A. (269)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 8:41 am
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.
 

Sue H. (7)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 9:13 am
Wouldn't this be wonderful? Wishing them great success, soon.
 

JL A. (269)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 9:44 am
You cannot currently send a star to Sue because you have done so within the last week.
 

greenplanet e. (157)
Wednesday November 21, 2012, 7:58 pm
What a good idea. We should be cutting back on fossil fuel use.
 

JL A. (269)
Wednesday November 21, 2012, 8:26 pm
You cannot currently send a star to greenplanet because you have done so within the last week.
 

Vanessa Escobar (9)
Wednesday November 21, 2012, 10:08 pm
thanks for sharing
 

Vanessa Escobar (9)
Wednesday November 21, 2012, 10:09 pm
:)
 

JL A. (269)
Wednesday November 21, 2012, 10:10 pm
You are welcome Vanessa.
 

Frans Badenhorst (537)
Thursday November 22, 2012, 12:28 am
funny....
 

Jason Topps (9)
Thursday November 22, 2012, 1:28 am
Great idea, we need more wind energy production.
 

JL A. (269)
Thursday November 22, 2012, 9:39 am
Somehow I envision gourds being the preferred vegetable Frans...
You cannot currently send a star to Frans because you have done so within the last week.
You cannot currently send a star to Jason because you have done so within the last week.
 

Gloria picchetti (279)
Thursday November 22, 2012, 9:41 am
It's good research.
 

John S. (294)
Friday November 23, 2012, 3:46 am
Thanks, interesting.
 

JL A. (269)
Friday November 23, 2012, 8:12 am
It is indeed Gloria! You are welcome John.
 
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story


Loading Noted By...Please Wait

 

 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.