Breathing new life into wind turbines
Wind power is one of the fastest-growing sources of renewable energy in the world. But demand for wind turbines is growing so rapidly that it can take up to two years for manufacturers to fulfil orders.
By contrast, existing wind turbines can be remanufactured and delivered in as little as four months. And at a fraction of the cost of a new wind turbine. Remanufactured turbines can keep wind farms at peak capacity, long beyond their designed lifetime.
In fact, remanufacturing can almost double the return on the original investment by extending turbine life by up to 20 years.
Around 80% of a typical wind turbine is made up of steel components. Various parts can be remanufactured to meet or exceed the original specifications including gearboxes, generators, bearings, and rotors.
Typically these parts need to be repaired after ten to twenty years of service. During the remanufacturing process, all components in the wind turbine are inspected and tested. Those parts which fall below the original specifications are refurbished or replaced.
The remanufacturing process can also be tailored to change the turbine’s output. For example, the latest transformer technology can be implemented in a turbine nacelle to take advantage of improvements in electrical steels. It is also possible to change generator windings, gear size, and even the software driving the turbine to accommodate local conditions or increase energy production.
Comprehensive recycling programme gives aircraft parts a second life
Aircraft are generally decommissioned after 20 to 25 years of service. Currently this amounts to around 800 planes a year. Many are flown to sites in the desert where they are stored until they get a new owner, or a second life.
Germany’s national carrier Lufthansa has developed a new approach which sees their own aircraft recycled and reused to service their existing fleet. Many valuable parts are extracted from the plane as soon as it lands in the desert. These include parts which contain a lot of valuable steels including the landing gear and engines.
For example, the four engines on a Boeing 747-400 contain elements which are worth around €7 million, accounting for 80% of the value of the aircrat’s reusable parts. The recycling work is carried out by Lufthansa’s US subsidiary Lufthansa Technik Component Services (LTCS). The company removes all of the reusable components from an aircraft before they are overhauled and tested.
Later they sent back to Germany where they are reused as spare parts for Lufthansa aircraft which are still in service.
“The quality of the used parts is just as good, and they are just as safe, as new parts – because they have to meet the same certification requirements and pass the same functional tests,” explains Hans Bernd Schmidt, project manager at Lufthansa Technik.
While some companies are only interested in keeping the most valuable spare parts, Lufthansa Technik recycles roughly 92% of a decommissioned airplane.
Remanufacturing a way of life for industrial machinery
The world’s leading suppliers of machinery and equipment for construction and mining typically design their products with remanufacturing in mind. Frequently remanufactured components include engines, drive trains, hydraulics, and the tracks which move vehicles such as bulldozers.
Customers return a used component to the OEM and receive a remanufactured product in return. This product has the same guarantee as the original and is immediately available to minimise machine downtime. Returning end-of-life components to as-new condition reduces waste and minimises the need for raw materials to produce new parts.
Source: Caterpillar, JBC, other