CITRIS PIs collaborate on compostable wind turbine blades

Three people working in a laboratory to construct a wind turbine.

UC Davis professors Valeria La Saponara, recipient of a 2010 CITRIS Seed Award, and Michele Barbato, director of the CITRIS Climate initiative, are working together to create ecologically sound wind turbine blades from bamboo and mycelium, the fungal rootlike system that bears mushrooms.

With wind providing a key source of renewable energy in California’s path to carbon neutrality, there is a need for an environmentally sustainable solution to the exponentially increasing number of wind blades bound for landfills. The UC Davis project envisions wind blades built from bamboo, mycelium and biomass from the agricultural waste from California’s Central Valley, instead of the fiberglass and balsa wood typically used to construct turbines today. Harvesting of the latter material has caused overlogging in the Ecuadorean Amazon rainforest.

“We want to have clean energy, but clean energy cannot pollute the environment, and it can’t cause deforestation,” La Saponara said. 

Image courtesy of Gregory Urquiaga, UC Davis