in News Departments > New & Noteworthy
print the content item

Renewable energy technologies, which are generally accepted as clean and sustainable, are confronted with the irony that they often employ non-sustainable, petroleum-based materials.

"The blades on a wind turbine, for example, are massive and need to be replaced about every 25 years," explains Richard Gross, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly). "They end up in landfills, like any other non-recyclable garbage. If they could be deconstructed by biological or chemical processes to recover chemicals that can be re-used, that would have an enormous positive impact on the environment. We could, in effect, 'green up' green energy."

Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, Gross and his collaborators from seven other universities are exploring ways in which biological-based materials can be used in the manufacture of wind turbine blades, solar panels and other components for the clean energy industry. Materials development and deployment is expected to take a minimum of five years.

In addition to the environmental benefits, as petroleum costs rise, there also may be economic advantages to using biological-based polymers, Gross says, adding that because the new materials will be meticulously engineered, their performance is expected to be just as good - or even better - than those currently employed.

"We believe that the precision by which nature designs molecules can be used to deliver better performance in both solar cells and wind turbine blades, where the organization of components is critical to device efficiency and material properties," Gross explains.

In addition to NYU-Poly, researchers hail from Case Western Reserve University, the University of Pennsylvania, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Sheffield in the U.K., the University of MONS in Belgium, the University of Bologna in Italy, and Santa Catarina State University in Brazil. They include not just materials scientists, but also mechanical engineers, chemists and others.

Mortenson Construction_id2024

Trachte Inc._id1770
Latest Top Stories

Canadian Wind Industry Urges For More Federal Support

The Canadian Wind Energy Association says the country's federal government, once a big industry supporter, should again back wind power.


Wind And Solar Helped California Grid During Challenging Summer

According to the California Independent System Operator, the state suffered from heat waves and drought this year, and wind power played a "significant role" in keeping the lights on.


Recapping The Wind Industry's Third-Quarter Deals

Mercom Capital Group recaps investment and merger and acquisition activity during July, August and September.


Yearly Installed Capacity Figures Already Beat 2013 Numbers, More Wind On The Way: AWEA

While the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) lobbies Congress to extend the production tax credit, the association notes wind projects now under construction signal a vibrant 2015.


Yahoo Inks Contract To Buy Kansas Wind Power

The Internet company plans to log in to the Alexander wind project, which is being built by community developer OwnEnergy.

Renewable NRG_id1934
Hybrid Energy Innovations 2015
BG 2015DblBox_id2032