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Structural reuse: design case study

How to design a composite product to facilitate structural reuse?

Structurally reusing parts of end-of-life products as construction elements has been demonstrated on a small scale. We expect that segmenting a large part into smaller, standardized, construction elements will enable more diverse and scalable reuse. However, reflection on the consequences for the initial design of composite products was still missing.

This study investigates the effect of the original product design on the recovery and reuse of composite products, taking wind turbine blades as case material. Construction elements were cut from a decommissioned blade and reused in a design study. Observations from the recovery and design process were connected to decisions made in the original product design.

Design insights enabling structural reuse annotated to the wind turbine blade

The insights were discussed with experts from the field of blade design. This resulted in identification of design aspects that enable multiple lifecycles of the composite material as construction panels, if considered during initial product design.

The full study was published open access in the journal of Resources, Conservation and Recycling: Joustra, J.; Flipsen, B.; Balkenende, R. Structural Reuse of High End Composite Products: a Design Case Study on Wind Turbine Blades. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2021.