Sweet Sustainability: Wind Turbines Recycled Into Gummy Bears

Aug 29, 2022

Thought Question: Describe a time when you were faced with a problem and found a creative solution to address it. 

When it comes to renewable sources of energy, it’s hard to beat the wind. The huge blades of wind turbines spin in the wind. That becomes safe, clean power. Yet even the turbines aren't the most environmentally friendly. They’re huge, sometimes hundreds of feet long. And they’re made mostly of materials that can't be recycled. 

That may soon change.

Scientists at Michigan State University experimented with a new plant-based compound to bind together the glass fibers used to create turbine blades. The resulting blades work just like those we normally use. They have one key difference. Scientists can dissolve them with special chemicals. The glass fibers can also be reused. The material is turned into other useful substances. One of them might appeal to anyone with a candy craving.

“We recovered food-grade potassium lactate and used it to make gummy bear candies, which I ate,” Dr. John Dorgan said of his team’s research. The material can be used to make windows and car tail lights. Dorgan told The Guardian, “(The resin) can be used over and over again in an infinite loop. That’s the goal of the circular economy.” 

Scientists admit the technology is still in its early stages. They need to test the new turbines in the field and find a good source for the compound's ingredients. But if all goes well, the project’s future promises to be sweet indeed.

Photo by Zhang Fengsheng courtesy of Unsplash.

Question
The first paragraph is meant to emphasize _______. (Common Core RI.5.5; RI.6.5)
a. how the new technology out of Michigan State University is different from existing wind turbine technology
b. what still needs to happen for the new technology to be safe and effective
c. the problem that the new technology out of Michigan State University is trying to help solve
d. how the new plant-based compound in wind turbines can be turned into candy
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