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Structural reuse through segmentation

Composite materials offer many advantages during the use phase, but recovery at the end of a lifecycle remains a challenge. Structural reuse, where an end of life product is segmented into construction elements, may be a promising alternative. However, composites are often used in large, complex shaped products with optimised material compositions that complicate reuse. A systematic approach is needed to address these challenges and the scale of processing.

Structural reuse of wind turbine blades by segmenting the original blade into (standardised) construction elements, which could find many applications in e.g. furniture, building and infrastructure.

We investigated structural reuse taking wind turbine blades as a case product. A new segmentation approach was developed and applied to a reference blade model. The recovered construction elements were found to comply to geometric construction standards and to outperform conventional construction materials on specific flexural stiffness and flexural strength. Finally, we explored the reuse of these construction elements in practice. Together, the segmentation approach, structural analysis and practical application provide insights into design aspects that enable structural reuse.

I wrote the article with Bas Flipsen and Ruud Balkenende, it was published open access in the Journal of Composites Part C. The full article can be retrieved from the journal’s website: