LIFE REFIBRE - High value asphalt pavements with glass fibre from sustainable recycling of wind powered generator blades

LIFE16 ENV/ES/000192

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Contact details:

Contact person: José María Enseñat Beso
Tel: 34947257729
Email: fromero@iccl.es

Project description:


Wind turbine blades are made of glass-fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP), a composite material that is difficult to recycle and that is currently being disposed of in landfills. The disposal of this bulky and non-biodegradable waste has negative environmental impacts and also health impacts arising from the risks linked to the inhalation or ingestion of this type of material.

The three blades of a standard 2MW wind turbine contain about 12 tonnes of GFRP. At the end of 2015, the wind turbines installed in Europe provided up to 120.81 GW, requiring more than 750 000 tonnes of GFRP. Spain is second in Europe and fourth in the world in terms of installed wind energy capacity, with more than 23 GW (and about 138 000 tonnes of GFRP). Most Spanish wind farms are located in the region of Castile and León.

The amount of GFRP will continue to increase as more wind turbines are installed and the number of turbines with larger blades increases. Today, the average turbine blade is 50 metres long, but blades of up to 75 metres are starting to be installed.


The LIFE REFIBRE project will promote the integrated management of GFRP from end-of-life wind turbine blades. REFIBRE will promote the recycling and use of the main compound – glass fibre – by incorporating it into asphalt pavements.

The project will design and build an innovative prototype plant to recycle wind turbine blades and obtain glass fibres. The fibres will then be introduced into asphalt mixes for road pavement construction. The fibres will improve the mechanical properties of road pavement, increasing its durability and reducing maintenance requirements (and therefore costs).

LIFE REFIBRE will therefore contribute to the implementation of European Union environmental policies, in particular the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Waste Framework Directive, under which landfilling should be reduced and recycling increased.

Expected results:

  • Development of a cost-efficient and highly-replicable model and recycling technology for end-of-life wind turbine blades. The model will include a logistical component (breaking up and collecting the wind turbine blades and transporting them to the recycling site), and the design and construction of a prototype plant that can process 100kg per hour of GFRP producing 50 kg per hour (50% yield) of recycled glass fibre;
  • Testing of the asphalt mixture containing 0.5%-1.5% by weight of recycled glass fibre. The technical viability of the asphalt mixture will be demonstrated in the construction of 12 000 m2 of roadway;
  • Prevention of the sending to landfill of about 23 tonnes of glass fibre waste. The recycling of these 23 tonnes of material will prevent 50.45 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases compared to the use of virgin fibres; and
  • An improvement in the technical properties of the asphalt that includes the recycled glass fibres, and a reduction in maintenance costs. Road life should increase by three years or 30%, there will be a 10% increase in resistance against deformation, a 12.5% increase in resilience, a 45% increase in fatigue resistance, a 7% improvement in rigidity and improvements in terms of resistance to extreme temperatures.



Environmental issues addressed:


Waste - Waste recycling


waste recycling‚  road construction

Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...
  • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description INSTITUTO DE LA CONSTRUCCIÓN DE CASTILLA Y LEÓN (ICCL) is a non-profit private organisation in Castile and León that provides technical support, standardisation and technology transfer services in the fields of road construction, building construction and building retrofitting.
Partners Fundación CARTIF, Spain INVESTIGACIÓN Y CONTROL DE CALIDAD, S.A., Spain CONTRATAS Y OBRAS SAN GREGORIO,S.A., Spain Transportes y Construcciones BLAS-GON S.A., Spain


Project reference LIFE16 ENV/ES/000192
Duration 01-OCT-2017 to 31-DEC -2020
Total budget 1,789,539.00 €
EU contribution 1,073,187.00 €
Project location Castilla-León(España)


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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version