In July 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) launched the Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize. 

This $5.1 million competition is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help the United States develop a cost-effective recycling industry for two important materials used in wind turbines: fiber-reinforced composites and rare earth elements. By helping to create a circular wind energy economy, this prize will increase the sustainability of wind energy and support the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals of achieving a carbon-pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050. 

In January 2024, DOE announced 20 winners from 15 states for the first phase of the Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize, with each receiving $75,000. 

Selected Phase 1 projects are listed and described below.

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

A New Fiber Spinning for Composite Recycling, Athens, Georgia

From the University of Georgia, this project uses fiber-spinning technology to recycle components from wind turbines, such as glass-fiber-reinforced polymers found in turbine blades. This technology transforms materials into long, thin threads or yarns by using machines to pull, stretch, and twist fibers, turning them into valuable and usable materials.

A Novel Method for Recycling Neodymium Magnet, Salt Lake City, Utah

From the University of Utah, this novel, carbon-emissions-free method uses hydrogen and magnesium to recycle elements used in wind turbine magnets, like neodymium (Nd).

Blades for Large-Format Additive Manufacturing, Orono, Maine

From the University of Maine, this project uses shredded wind turbine blade material as an affordable reinforcement and filler that can be mixed into a plastic material used for large-scale 3D printing. 

Chemolysis Recycling of All Turbine Blade Material, Albuquerque, New Mexico

While most recycling only recovers the fiber from wind turbine blades, this chemical recycling approach from V-Carbon Inc. also produces a material that can be reused in resin manufacturing.

Circular Mechanical Recycling of Wind Turbines, Charleston, South Carolina

This project from GreenTex Solutions uses an efficient, cost-effective approach to recycle wind turbine blades by shredding them on-site and repurposing the material into recyclable flooring panels. 

Composite Fiber Recovery and Resin Recycling, Amherst, Massachusetts

This project, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, breaks down and recycles epoxy-based materials used in wind turbine parts by using environmentally friendly chemicals, high-pressure, high-temperature carbon dioxide, and heated water.

Continuous Chemical Recycling at Ambient Pressure, Pullman, Washington

From Washington State University, this project uses an energy-efficient way to recycle carbon-fiber-reinforced composites that keeps most of the original strength intact and does not use harsh chemicals.

Domestic Rare Earth Recovery from Wind Turbines Using Acid-Free Dissolution Recycling, Boone, Iowa

Critical Materials Recycling, Inc. uses acid-free dissolution recycling, a gentle, non-corrosive method for recycling materials without using acids, to recover magnets from wind turbines as part of a domestic recycling ecosystem.

Flash Composite Recycling: Turbine Blades to Silicon Carbide, Houston, Texas

This United Standard Materials Corporation’s project turns fiber-reinforced composites from turbine blades directly into silicon carbide (SiC) using a short electrical pulse through a process called "flash composite recycling.” The SiC produced can help enhance the durability of new turbine materials. The process also generates clean hydrogen for renewable energy.

Hybrid Composites from Wood and Wind Turbine Blade, Denton, Texas

Z&S Tech LLC uses a cost-effective and environmentally friendly approach to recycle wind turbine blades by breaking them into small particles on site. The particles will be used to create recycled hybrid composite materials, which have enhanced properties and can replace traditional wood-based products for applications like furniture and sound insulation.

Launching Circular Composite Infrastructure, Knoxville, Tennessee

This project, from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, uses a process to turn recycled fiberglass into continuous yarns, allowing for versatile and cost-effective manufacturing. They plan to use this innovation to create sustainable protective tubing for U.S. infrastructure projects.

Mobile On-Site Wind Turbine Blade Shredder System, Huntington, West Virginia

Fletcher Engineered Solutions uses an enclosed wind turbine material shredder capable of shredding a complete blade on-site without sectioning.

Mobile Wind Blade Recycling for Concrete, Grand Rapids, Michigan

This project uses a wind turbine recycling method that can reduce the heavy carbon footprint associated with cement use in the concrete construction industry. 

PulseWave Resonance Frequency Recycling Technology, Allen, Texas

Micronizing Technologies LLC uses a technology called PulseWave, which can provide clean recycling of wind turbine materials without thermal or chemical processing. 

Rare Earth Element Production with Net-Zero Carbon Emission, West Lafayette, Indiana

From Purdue University, this project minimizes the environmental impact of wind turbine decommissioning while efficiently recovering rare earth elements from used magnets. 

Recycling Wind Turbine Blades to Asphalt, Lubbock, Texas

From Texas Tech University, this project recycles the fiber-reinforced composite parts of wind turbine blades as additives to asphalt binder, which is the sticky substance in asphalt that holds the rocks and sand together to make sturdy roads.

REEMAG Breakthrough Magnet Recycling, New York City, New York

REEMAG LLC uses a carbon-free rare earth magnet recycling solution that uses a technology called “atomic electrolytic decrepitation,” which breaks down materials at an atomic scale using electrical reactions.

Resin-Bonded Coatings for Concrete, Houston, Texas

This project recycles granulated wind turbine blade waste by incorporating it in special coating that can protect concrete and make it waterproof.

Re-Wind U.S.A., Atlanta, Georgia

This project, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, converts wind turbines into high-demand infrastructure products to replace those made with materials that require a significant amount of energy for their production.

RUTE Suntracker Footing, Portland, Oregon

RUTE Foundation Systems uses recycled wind blade material to make an economical, lightweight base structure that supports and stabilizes their RUTE SunTracker, a high-clearance, dual-use solar tracker.

Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time. DOE award amounts are subject to change pending negotiations.

Additional Information