Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

MSCA-COFUND-CLEAR-Doc - PhD Position #CD21-52 : Prospects for recycling wind turbine composite wastes for smart and sustainable cities

This job offer has expired

    Université Gustave Eiffel
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    21/03/2022 17:00 - Europe/Brussels
    France › Marne-La-Vallée
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND


The wind energy market has been largely developed in Quebec and France in the 1990s. The service lifespan of wind turbines is estimated between 20 and 30 years. Today the problem of end-of-life treatment of this first generation of wind turbines begins to arise. The concrete and steel used in these structures are now recycled, but the composite part that makes up the blades is for the most part buried in landfills. The dismantling of a 2 MW wind turbine generates around 25 tons of composite wastes. The expansion of the wind farm in Europe will lead by 2050 a total of 375,000 tons of dismantled blades. There is therefore a real interest to implement adequate solutions to give them a second life. The difficulty in recycling these blades comes from their structure and their chemical composition. These are sandwich composite materials, the skins of which are mainly composed of glass fibers (50 to 60% by mass) and a thermosetting resin (40 to 50%). The core of these sandwich structures is usually made of lightwood such as balsa. These materials considered independently are relatively inexpensive; thus the recycling methods to envisage must also be inexpensive in order to be economically advantageous. The objective of this Thesis is therefore to study the prospects for recycling wind turbine blade composite wastes in cement-based construction materials, to significantly reduce the environmental impacts of these wastes. Thus, the works will consist in implementing these new materials from deconstruction in an economically viable way, characterizing them to optimize their short-term behavior and monitoring the evolution of their performance over time to ensure their durability . It will also be necessary to ensure their recyclability after use. This study will be based on a multidisciplinary and multi-scale approach.

The first year will be devoted to literature review and to start feasibility studies for recycling the wind blades. An in-depth state of the art will be carried out on the existing mechanical methods to recycle composite waste, in particular addressing the concepts of separation, sorting, and crushing. It will therefore initially be focused on the identification of the materials shapes (fibers, powders, etc.)and particle sizes, depending on the sorting, that could be integrated into cement matrices. A chemical, physicochemical, and morphological characterization of the wind turbine blade wastes will make it possible to assess the impact of these different characteristics on the physical and mechanical performance of these concrete.

The second year aims at assessing and optimizing the compatibility of cement matrices and wind turbine blades wastes. This will include identifying the impact of treatments to improve the quality of composite cement matrix interfaces. Thus different formulation possibilities will be studied, and, as a function of the obtained performances, different applications would be considered, such as the production of concrete pavements, noise barriers or street furniture. For example, low-cost fibers could then replace the steel or glass fibers currently used. The fibers would provide better resistance to abrasion and heat, and limit the phenomenon of cracking due to restrained shrinkage by improving the tensile strength and ductility of concrete. Then, accelerated ageing will be carried out taking into account the environmental constraints to which these materials will be exposed to. This study will be based on the evolution of the characteristics of these concretes to assess the impact of blade waste and treatments on the pathologies usually encountered in concrete.

The third year will be devoted to setting up a prototype with the most promising formulations. A simplified life cycle analysis will be performed to assess the environmental impacts of these composite wastes, taking into account the possibility of its recyclability at the end of its life. Finally, the last months will focus on writing the doctoral thesis.

The thesis will take place within the International Associated Laboratory ECOMAT ""Ecomaterials for Infrastructures and the Building"" between the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec and the University of Gustave Eiffel in France. The PhD student will spend 18 months at the University of Sherbrooke and then 18 months in France and will have a double degree (French and Canadian) at the end of his/her thesis.

This is an opportunity to work under a large team of researchers supervising the doctoral student, as well as laboratories and research equipment perfectly suited to the thesis works. Indeed, the Civil Engineering and Building Engineering Department of the University of Sherbrooke as well as the Materials and Structure Department of the University Gustave Eiffel have recognized experience, knowledge and expertise in the field of materials and recycling. This project will allow the PhD student to acquire knowledge in the field of wind turbines, a key part of the energy transition, to contribute to the circular economy by proposing technical and technological solutions to reduce the amount of composite waste. The candidate will work on a multidisciplinary subject by developing his or her knowledge in materials, processing, multi-scale characterization and durability, all within a leading international researchers’ team.

This project tackles a real societal demand on the economy of natural resources and the recycling of materials in the construction sector. If the development of wind turbines is excellent news for the production of clean and renewable energy, the management of these structures’ end of life is not yet solved and raises environmental concerns, because they are extremely difficult to recycle. The ambition of this project is to provide technical and technological solutions to re-integrate these wastes into constructions materials, instead of burying them in landfill or incinerate them."

International Mobility:

This thesis will be in co-supervision with Université de Sherbrooke (Canada). For more information, contact the PhD thesis supervisor.


More Information


  • High-quality doctoral training rewarded by a PhD degree, delivered by Université Gustave Eiffel
  • Access to cutting-edge infrastructures for research & innovation.
  • Appointment for a period of 36 months based on a salary of 2 700 € (gross salary per month).
  • Job contract under the French labour legislation in force, respecting health and safety, and social security: 35 hours per week contract, 25 days of annual leave per year.
  • International mobility will be mandatory
  • An international environment supported by the adherence to the European Charter & Code.
  • Access to dedicated CLEAR-Doc trainings with a strong interdisciplinary focus, together with a Career development Plan.


Eligibility criteria

  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must be in possession or finalizing their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree. At the time of recruitment, applicants must be in possession of their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree which would formally entitle to embark on a doctorate.
  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research career (career breaks excluded) and not yet been awarded a doctoral degree. Career breaks refer to periods of time where the candidate was not active in research, regardless of his/her employment status (sick leave, maternity leave etc). Short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account.

  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the call deadline.

  • Applicants must be available to start the programme on schedule (around 1st October 2022).

Selection process

Additional comments

  • The First step before applying is contacting the PhD supervisor. You will not be able to apply without an acceptation letter from the PhD supervisor.
  • Please contact the PhD supervisor for any additional detail on job offer.
  • There are no restrictions concerning the age, gender or nationality of the candidates. Applicants with career breaks or variations in the chronological sequence of their career, with mobility experience or with interdisciplinary background or private sector experience are welcome to apply.
  • Support service is available during every step of the application process by email: clear-doc@univ-eiffel.fr


Web site for additional job details

Offer Requirements

    Engineering: Master Degree or equivalent
    ENGLISH: Excellent
    FRENCH: Basic


  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must be in possession or finalizing their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree.
  • At the time of recruitment, applicants must be in possession of their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree which would formally entitle to embark on a doctorate.


Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Université Gustave Eiffel
5, Boulevard Descartes

EURAXESS offer ID: 717309


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