Texas Tech University

Team of Texas Tech Professors Awarded Grant

Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering

January 29, 2024

The Department of Energy has awarded Texas Tech with a Grand Prize for their project titled, Recycling Wind Turbine Blades to Asphalt.

The Department of Energy awarded TTU's interdisciplinary team consisting of Dr. Tewodros Ghebrab (Civil Engineering), Dr. Rajesh Khare (Chemical Engineering),  Dr. Paul Egan (Mechanical Engineering), Dr. Samantha Kristufek (Chemistry) and Priya Gill (Chemical Engineering - commercialization) the Wind Turbine Recycling , Phase 1 (Initiate!) Prize for their project, titled, Recycling Wind Turbine Blades to Asphalt. The cash prize of $75,000 will cover their efforts towards applying for Phase II (Accelerate!) of the Prize.

Wind Turbine Research Team

As stated on the Department of Energy's official website for this annoucement, "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."

The team states, "Recycling efforts in the past have often been criticized becauase they solve one problem while ignoring other downstream issues."

What Texas Tech and this team has done is found a way around these road blocks and were able to target solutions such as seeking out decommissioned wind turbines. These turbines become decommissioned after a 20 year life span and Texas Tech knows there are around 71,000 turbines in the United States per the Texas Tech team research. Winning this award allows Texas Tech to continue their advances in commercializing this solution to create a more efficient outcome for our future which includes jobs and sustainable energy. 

What does this mean for the College of Engineering?

This is a building block for the College of Engineering becauase of how the team was able to work with different departments to bring this award to Texas Tech. Departments such as Chemical, Civil, Mechanical out of the college of Engineering along with the help of the Chemistry department were able to have such an impact on the potential future of these decommissioned wind turbines. "Our team is passionate about sustainability, and we are geographically very well located near some of the worlds largest windfarms that provide us with this unique opportunity." said Dr. Ghebrab. This team has really stood on the building blocks of this university and further showcasing its slogan "From Here It Is Possible".

They adapt this slogan into their approach to different problems that may arise within the research, The team recognize this very difficult issue of converting wind turbine waste to useful material, and in line with the University's philosophy of making it possible to solve difficult problems, has come up with this elegant solution to this urgent problem of contemporary interest. This shows the importance of this team's work is at this level to find safe solutions that will adapt to our world for the better.

The team that has assembled here at Texas Tech is ready to make those advances and ready to take on the difficult task that stand in the way of possibilities for its graduates. Continue following their discoveries on how Texas Tech dedicates itself to a better tomorrow.