A map of the United States with pin drops showing the location of each of the 20 winners of the first phase of the Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize

Twenty teams from across the country submitted winning solutions in the first phase of the Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize. 

Graphic by John Frenzl, NREL

The U.S. Department of Energy today announced 20 winners of the first phase of the Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize. The $5.1 million, two-phase competition funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law helps develop a cost-effective and sustainable recycling industry for key wind turbine materials not currently recycled commercially. Robust, domestic recycling options for fiber-reinforced composites and rare earth elements will help the environment by lowering the United States’ need to extract and process raw materials. The reuse of more critical materials would also decrease dependence on imports, which would make domestic supply chains less susceptible to price volatility and disruptions. By creating a circular economy for wind energy systems, the Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals of achieving a carbon-pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.   

“These winning teams presented innovative technology ideas that exemplify the creative, problem-solving skills we need to build a highly sustainable wind turbine recycling industry,” said Jeff Marootian, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “On top of that, these domestic recycling solutions enhance our energy security by reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign materials.” 

About 85%–90% of the mass of a wind turbine is made of materials that can already be commercially recycled. This prize aims to close the gap on the remaining 10%–15% of unrecyclable material, which is primarily carbon fiber and fiberglass (found in wind turbine blades, nacelle covers, and hub covers), and rare earth elements like neodymium and dysprosium (found in generators).  

20 teams from 15 states were selected as winners of the Initiate! phase of the prize for their innovative ideas to enhance wind material recycling technologies and processes. Each of the winning teams received $75,000 and an invitation to move into the final phase of the competition, Accelerate!, where they will develop prototypes of their technologies. Up to six teams will be named winners and receive a cash prize of $500,000 and vouchers valued at $100,000 to work with DOE national laboratories.   

The Phase One winning teams are: 

  • A New Fiber Spinning for Composite Recycling (Athens, Georgia)  
  • A Novel Method for Recycling Neodymium Magnet (Salt Lake City, Utah) 
  • Blades for Large-Format Additive Manufacturing (Orono, Maine)  
  • Chemolysis Recycling of All Turbine Blade Material (Albuquerque, New Mexico) 
  • Circular Mechanical Recycling of Wind Turbines (Charleston, South Carolina) 
  • Composite Fiber Recovery and Resin Recycling (Amherst, Massachusetts) 
  • Continuous Chemical Recycling at Ambient Pressure (Pullman, Washington) 
  • Domestic Rare Earth Recovery from Wind Turbines Using ADR (Boone, Iowa) 
  • Flash Composite Recycling: Turbine Blades to Silicon Carbide (Houston, Texas) 
  • Hybrid Composites from Wood and Wind Turbine Blade (Denton, Texas) 
  • Launching Circular Composite Infrastructure (Knoxville, Tennessee) 
  • Mobile Onsite Wind Turbine Blade Shredder System (Huntington, West Virginia) 
  • Mobile Wind Blade Recycling for Concrete (Grand Rapids, Michigan) 
  • PulseWave Resonance Frequency Recycling Technology (Allen, Texas) 
  • Rare Earth Element Production with Net-Zero Carbon Emission (West Lafayette, Indiana) 
  • Recycling Wind Turbine Blades to Asphalt (Lubbock, Texas) 
  • REEMAG Breakthrough Magnet Recycling (New York City, New York) 
  • Resin-Bonded Coatings for Concrete (Houston, Texas) 
  • Re-Wind USA (Atlanta, Georgia) 
  • RUTE Suntracker Footing (Portland, Oregon) 

The Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize is funded by DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO). It is part of DOE’s American Made Challenges program and is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Learn more about the winning teams and other WETO research to advance wind turbine sustainability.  

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