CETMA’s ambition towards sustainable materials and solutions for the renewable energy sector

29 June 2023

Why did you join the MAREWIND project and what’s your role?

CETMA has always been involved in research activities related to the sustainability of materials, its areas of interest range from plastic/composite materials to building materials. The MAREWIND project addresses the problem of the durability of these materials and CETMA has fielded its expertise in this regard with the aim of strengthening and expanding them.

In MAREWIND project, CETMA will study cement-free and durable concretes for offshore foundation, a structural monitoring system based on fibreoptics to monitor the stress state of Fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) reinforcing bars, recyclable resin for the production of wind blades and recycling techniques for composite materials (wind turbines at the end of their life).

 As expert in materials engineering, what are your ambitions in contributing to the European Renewable energy targets?

CETMA’s ambition is to identify sustainable materials and solutions that can be used in the renewable energy sector. The wind energy sector, as well as the photovoltaic sector, still need supports, structures, infrastructures to be able to function and identify sustainable, durable and recyclable materials that would help make these interventions less impacting from an environmental point of view. On the concrete side, the ambition is to reduce reducing the CO2 footprint and costs of concrete without compromising its performance in terms of mechanical performance and durability, thanks also to the sensorised composite bars.

On the composite side, the work carried out aims to develop new sustainable solutions for the production of wind turbines of the future and to recycle wind turbines at the end of their life.

Besides innovation materials for the wind sector, is CETMA developing materials in other sectors? Are there similarities in the way these materials are developed? In MAREWIND, how has been the process to obtain new concrete materials?

CETMA has always carried out research and innovation activities in the field of advanced materials applied to several sectors such as aerospace, automotive, aeronautics and the construction sector. In all these applications, the approach consists in studying the reference materials and introducing innovation starting from the constituent elements and up to the production process. The common goal is environmental sustainability, weight reduction, performance increase or cost reduction.

The process to obtain the new AAM concrete for marine foundations starts from the required performance characteristics by formulating and testing AAM mixtures able to satisfy these requirements. The process involved developing a cement-free binder with high mechanical strength characteristics, then evaluating its behaviour after the addition of sand to obtain a mortar and the subsequent addition of coarse aggregates and high-density aggregates to develop the final concrete. Tests were performed for each of the formulated mixtures to identify the most promising one that was optimised.

 How CETMA is contributing in implementing a more sustainable wind sector?

The solutions developed by CETMA aim at the use of waste materials from the metallurgical industry (slag and sludge) for the development of more durable cement-free concretes compared to traditional concretes; the use of sensorised FRP reinforcing bars also reduces or eliminates the risk of corrosion, extending the useful life of the components.

As far as wind turbines are concerned, however, the development of more sustainable, and recyclable polymeric matrices makes these elements more sustainable from an environmental point of view.

How do you see the future of the MAREWIND project?

The MAREWIND project represents an important starting point for wind energy. The solutions that are being developed will support the birth of a more sustainable new generation of more sustainable wind power plants. Some of the topics dealt with, if further explored, will become new commercial realities available to the designers of these systems.

Read more about CETMA here.