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Electrochemical Recycling of Carbon Fiber Composite Wind Turbine Components

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0023972
Agency Tracking Number: 272754
Amount: $205,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: C56-17a
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2023
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-07-10
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-04-03
Small Business Information
315 Huls Drive
Englewood, OH 45315-8983
United States
DUNS: 793274747
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Katherine Lee
 (937) 836-7749
Business Contact
 Maria Inman
Phone: (937) 836-7749
Research Institution
 Washington State University
 Hui Li
Lighty 280
Pullman, WA 99164-1060
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

Deployment of wind turbines with longer blades and high hub heights is a critical path towards improving the economics of wind energy. These large wind turbines use carbon fiber composites in order to improve performance and reduce total mass, ultimately lowering the cost of wind energy. Despite these potential benefits, the poor recyclability of carbon fiber composites as well the high environmental impact of virgin carbon fiber manufacturing is a growing concern for commercial and government wind industry stakeholders. In the proposed work, a commercial process for recycling carbon fiber composites in end-of-life wind turbines will be developed. This recycling strategy is based on an innovative electrochemical technology that recovers high-quality carbon fiber which is suitable for manufacturing second-generation composites. In contrast to other composite recycling approaches – which use harsh conditions (e.g., high temperatures/pressures) and/or toxic/corrosive chemicals to drive carbon fiber recovery – this electrochemical technology uses an applied electric field to drive carbon fiber recovery under mild conditions (temperatures less than 60°C, ambient pressure) using environmentally benign chemicals. The Phase I objective is to validate that this electrochemical recycling approach can effectively separate high-quality carbon fiber from wind industry standard composites and develop electrochemical hardware/process parameters that can be directly scaled to commercial practice. The potential to manufacture commercially competitive recycled composites with the recovered carbon fiber will also be demonstrated. Successful development of this electrochemical technology for recycling carbon fiber composite in end-of-life wind turbines will enable wind turbine operators to reap the performance and economic benefits of carbon fiber composites while still achieving their zero-waste and other sustainability goals. This technology will also benefit other industries (ex., aerospace) and government agencies (ex., Department of Defense) that are dealing with challenges related to end-of-life treatment of carbon fiber composites and management of composite manufacturing scrap. This technology is expected to enable a marketplace of low-cost recycled carbon fiber that can be used in high-quality composite manufacturing, providing more economical carbon fiber composite options that ar. cost-competitive for a broader range of industries (e.g., automotive, sporting goods).

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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