Future Wind Turbine Blades Could Be Recycled Into Delicious Gummy Bears, Scientists Say

Windmills have increased in usage as the world moved toward more renewable forms of energy. However, wind turbine blades aren’t easily recyclable. An increasing number of these blades are piling up in landfills, where the useless fiberglass husks will probably remain forever. Researchers at Michigan State University say they’ve synthesized a new resin to use in the blades that can be recycled into gummy bears, and more.

The researchers created a unique thermoplastic resin strong enough to be used in turbine blades because they need to be strong enough to brunt hurricane-force winds. But when that hardy resin is thrown into an alkaline solution for digestion, its breakdown produces PMMA, or poly (methyl methacrylate), a common acrylic that has applications from car taillights to windows. Another byproduct of the resin’s digestion is potassium lactate, which when purified can be used in food products — including gummy candies!

“We recovered food-grade potassium lactate and used it to make gummy bear candies, which I ate,” said researcher John Dorgan, who is presenting the research at the American Chemical Society this Tuesday, in a press release.

“The beauty of our resin system is that at the end of its use cycle, we can dissolve it, and that releases it from whatever matrix it’s in so that it can be used over and over again in an infinite loop,” Dorgan added.

“A carbon atom derived from a plant, like corn or grass, is no different from a carbon atom that came from a fossil fuel,” he said.

It all sounds quite reliable and delicious. The next step, according to the researchers, is to start making smaller test blades out of the new resin.

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