Repurposing the wind turbine blade to a table near you - Brian Donahue
What happens to a wind turbine after the time on the tower is changing. Canvus is taking what was likely headed to the landfill and repurposing the blade in many forms and could soon be headed to a park or public space near you. Brian Donahue gives us the scope of work across the country from his Ohio office.
Hey everybody, I'm Paul Yeager This is the MtoM Show podcast, a production of Iowa PBS in the Market to Market TV show. We cover everything on Market to Market when it comes to what's in the field, what's on the farm, what's going in what's coming out what's from above energy, renewable energy, what to do with something when it's no longer providing value, what's the recycle? What's the upcycle? Wind turbines, those blades are big. Where do they go? You've seen the pictures, they've ended up in landfills or somewhere else that maybe the industry doesn't want to highlight and opponents certainly do want to let everyone know but there is a company based in Ohio that is taking the wind turbine blade and doing some fascinating things with it. Brian Donohue is with a company called Canvus and they're based out in the area of Cleveland, Ohio. They have a facility there that is making some fascinating things with wind turbines. I'm talking park benches, tables, and a whole lot more. The opportunities as we find out in this installment are almost endless. And the story behind the company is right now on the MToM Show podcast. All right. Brian, a little admission, there's no Shawn, Will or Jason Bateman anywhere on this. So I hope you realize this isn't Smartless?
[Donahue] I do. But I'm happy to be here on Market to Market.
[Yeager] You know, this is a story that we have with wind energy. Let's talk about Iowa. I mean, that is become one of the centers of wind turbines. And now there's the discussion of what to do with it. We'll get to that in a minute. I want to learn a little bit about you. You're sitting in Ohio, is that correct?
[Donahue] Yes. We're headquartered in a town called Rocky River just east of Cleveland.
[Yeager] So, alright, so now we're, well, now we're gonna you're gonna you're not from Cleveland Heights, though. Nope.
[Donahue] I'm in Rocky River.
[Yeager] You're not a Kelce brother.
[Donahue] No, I would be doing pretty well, if I was. Are you from Ohio? Originally from the East Coast, northern New Jersey, but I've been in this area for about 23 years.
[Yeager] New Jersey city? Or are you one of those rare New Jersey farm people?
[Donahue] Very close to the city about 15 minutes outside of Manhattan, little north of Newark, little west of Jersey City. Yeah.
[Yeager]What was your background there? What was interesting to Brian as a student?
[Donahue] Accounting and Finance, which I think I still use to this day, but coming out of coming out of school, I moved back home for a while and traded commodities on the New York Board of Trade, and then moved to Ohio where there is no Board of Trade and found other ways to scratch that itch, I guess, if you will?
[Yeager] Well, we're at is kind of like halfway between Chicago and New York. So see, you just couldn't decide did you want to go grain and grain? Or did you want to go back to oil there in New York? That's right. What's your best trading story?
[Donahue] It was wild. I mean, I was down there in the late 90s, early 2000s. Before it was all computerized, and we still had handheld pads, and you'd flip your cards in every half hour. And it sounds so old fashioned now, but it was a blast. And as a young clerk. I mean, that's where you start, you clerk and they had just opened the new New York Mercantile Exchange, right there, off of Wall Street. And I was about a week into my job and got put on the oil pit, which was a terrifying, terrifying experience. The president of the company and one of our best traders traded oil, and I'm a weekend clerking for them. But I ended up because they had just opened the building on the cover of The New York Times when they ran a story. And all the other clerks who had been there for a year or two were a little envious, that somehow I ended up on the front page of the times and not them.
[Yeager] It just pays to be in the right place at the right time, and maybe just the right look that day. Do you have one of those? I mean, we have a couple of people that come on the show that have worked and they have stories of my cards inaccurate because I transpose something. Did you ever, ever, ever have one of those moments?
[Donahue] The worst moment I had in that regard? There are all hand signals, right. And that's how you communicate from across the room and on your forehead represents hundreds and on your chin represents 10s. So at the end of the day in oil, I got an order to sell 800 futures contracts from our options trader, I sold at because I mixed up the signals. So at the end of the day, he said, I'm long 720 futures, and I went home. 22 years old, I'm like, I'm gonna get fired tomorrow, like there's no end, I woke up to check the overseas market and the market had skyrocketed. So all in all now, I never got a bonus out of it. I still made the mistake. But he did very well off that mistake.
[Yeager] Maybe he named his boat after you? He made the Brian. So commodity trading, and it's interesting that you say crude oil, and that that was what you were in. And so now in a in a recycling type business. That's an alternative to energy. So is energy as a whole of interest to you?
[Donahue] I guess you'd have to think so I don't think I ever charted it out that way. But something has always brought me back to that sector and in between now and where we're at with renewables. I did a lot of work with oil and gas companies on their surplus assets and distressed assets. And that's really kind of what led me into the wind energy as a lot of those companies are also branching out into renewables. And that's how we got turned on to this in the first place.
[Yeager] Where were you? In the beginning of this company?
[Donahue] Our founding group at Canvus, there's three of them. And they were all working for another company that I was also working for. And that company was really a broker. And so they, like I said, they would take surplus and distressed assets. And at the time, we had focused a lot in the wind energy, because the production tax credits were coming into play. And there was a lot of repowering going on old equipment coming down and new going up. When you take them down, you have metal, you have the fluids, the oils and the hydraulics and you have the fiberglass, the blades, and metal and oil, they've been recycled for years and years and years. It's not hard, you pick up a heavy object, you put it on a truck, and it goes off to the scrap mill. Oil is the same way, there's 150 companies out there that can repurpose it. But the big problem for the industry was the fiberglass blades. And so we always thought there was a better way to handle them than certainly better than landfill, and then better than some of the other options that have come up. So we had a team and was actually led by one of the founders of Canvus, who was looking at different alternatives of how to handle the blades. And Parker is the one who came up with the idea of cutting them into filets and making products and it really blew our mind. And so he left that company and founded Canvus, and in the meantime, found one of his college roommates who had graduated with a design or a degree in architecture. So he came on board and did our design. And then Parker very wisely, hired his older sister who runs all the infrastructure and as the Senior VP of strategic growth. So once they founded it, they really tapped into people we had known with expertise and sales, marketing, manufacturing, all the things that were needed for Canvus. And that's how I came over as both an employee but also an advisor role for them as we get this business up and running.
[Yeager] So family and friends of sorts, so that makes its own challenge, we could do a whole nother discussion on that one. But be part of the green on something that's new, sad keep, which kept you up more at night, when you were on the wrong side of a trade, or going on, I don't know if anybody's gonna buy these things?
[Donahue] Both in different ways. You know, we have a saying around here that we connect the dots to solve problems and create opportunity. So our whole group is really wired to look at a challenge like fiberglass. And I think there's two types of people in the world. I believe that the unknown is very, very scary. And they like a very comfortable, not having too much unknown in their life. We're on the other side of the coin, and I think it drives loved one spouses, especially crazy that the unknown is incredibly exciting to us. And you never know what's behind that door. So we kind of run headlong into it. And there were a lot of hours and a lot of sleepless nights because no one's ever done it before what we're doing, it has been done here and there on a small scale. And people have had intention, they've built a bridge out of blades or a bike rack. But we knew we needed to solve the problem on scale because of the number of the blades coming down. So there was no blueprint, we couldn't google it. There weren't consultants we could bring in. So we had to sit around a big table, and sometimes have what we call spirited discussions, sometimes collaborate a little more, but we all knew there was in a great a great purpose behind what we were doing.
[Yeager] Was that table made of recycled blade? No, sorry, that was too easy, but not so. Okay. So how old of a company are we talking here?
[Donahue] Canvus has been around for about three years. Since Parker split off and decided to really take it by the reins. It's been about three years. He incorporated it in I think, April of 2022. So it's been officially a corporation for almost two years now. But he's been working on it for about three.
[Yeager] And where is Parker from? I mean, does he see all these blades and go? I mean, you mentioned kind of the background about you know what to recycle, but I mean, you can't you not everybody looks at the blade the same.
[Donahue] They don't and what he did when he worked at River cab, the former company where he came from, he had been given the task of eight. We're working with a lot of these wind companies. We're handling the byproducts. What else can we do with blades, so that was really his project, and he spent a lot of time on it. And historically, everyone that looks at blades besides landfill looks to destroy the blade and how can we get it into smaller pieces and then do something with it, whether it be using it as fuel on a cement kiln, whether it be trying to use it as aggregate income Concrete, how can we crush that blade and not use it for what it is? And he really looked at it differently and said, How can we use the strength of that blade and the durability of that blade and use less energy to convert it into something that has a useful purpose. And that's really where it spawned from is, I don't, I don't know how he exactly came up with it. But I remember the day he showed it to us and said, If we cut these like this, we can put them like this and make furniture out of them. And we really stopped looking at alternative solutions, we really believed that was the way to go.
[Yeager] I want to go back to the aggregate part of what you just said. So do you do that aggregate side?
[Donahue] We have some outlets that we still use on the cement side and the aggregate side, because we're always going to have damaged blades that can't be recycled into products, or, you know, we have to build the demand, which we've done very successfully so far. But there are probably going to be more blades than we can turn into product. So we want to be able to handle everything still responsibly upcycle as much as humanly possible, but then also have responsible outlets to recycle the material that can't be turned into product.
[Yeager] So how many companies are doing that side of aggregate that you think are in the marketplace that could Google each other and figure out how to improve it? I mean, is that a dozen companies that are doing that in the US right now or globally?
[Donahue] You know, there's a lot of people trying different things that the most tried and true are the cement kilns. And there's probably, gosh, I think it's anywhere from 60 to 80 in the US and not all of them can use fiberglass as a fuel. I think they're trying to get there as a whole. The biggest problem with any of these solutions, whether it be aggregate, pyrolysis, where they try and break the material back down and oil and fiber for the cement kilns, is that middle stop where you have to grind it, you've got material, that's fiberglass, resin, metal balsa wood foam. I mean, sometimes when you cut open these blades, it's amazing. And we've seen so many of them. And it's a little surprise every time they're not the same. So grinding, it is wildly abusive on equipment, and it really eats up material. We've worked with probably a dozen grinding companies that they've got the newest and latest grinder and they can grind everything we've got and we ship them half a blade and they grind it and they say no, thank you. We're not really interested anymore. Seven of them just ghosted us, they never even called us back. So it's it's tough to find the right equipment and put the commitment behind it to do it. The other side of it is no matter what grinder you have the root end where that blade attaches to the hub is five or six inch thick fiberglass, so you're not grinding it. Our products love the root end, we make full circular products. And then we use the half of it to make our crescent lines and other benches out of that route. And so we have companies that are actually grinding material that look to us just to take the roots because they have no other outlet for them.
[Yeager] Someone else's trouble. Yes, your success So it sounds like you're the let's go back to agriculture for a minute. It sounds like you're in the early days of processing the pig. You process everything but the squeal.
[Donahue] That's right. We try to you know, there's not much in there. There's the metal studs, where it attaches to the hub. That's easy, you pull them out and then scrap metal. And then we have a saw in our facility. So to jump back, you know, they come down there 140 to 200 feet long at this point, the ones coming down. So we have contractors that cut them cross section and we call it in the field in the thirds or quarters depending on the size of the blade. Otherwise the freight would kill us so we're able to ship on standard trailers. Then we bring our raw material in it's a 40 foot section of blade loaded on an indexing card. It's called and it feeds a rope saw that's diamond encrusted and cuts those filets as it goes forward and pushes the blade forward. So we then have the basis for our products.
[Yeager] You just said fillet, is that what I thought I heard you say?
[Donahue] Yeah, we look at the whole section as like a tenderloin and they just capitalize off of it. It's the easiest way it makes people really hungry when they hear it but it's the easiest way to describe it.
[Yeager] Guilty. And but it totally again and then back to the hog analogy. Yeah, it really is carving like it is like the processing industry. Okay. You mentioned sourcing on trucks. Where are these blades coming from?
[Donahue] They come from all over really. We have a pretty decent inventory here in Ohio from a project we finished in Iowa last year that we were able to bring mid Americans blades here and start turning them into products. So we're going through those. We've gotten blades from Texas from Oregon from Wyoming It really just depends on where the blades are at. And you want to try and be geographically closer, you know, to minimize the freight. So everyone said, Well, if you want to be in wind, why are you setting up a shop and route in Cleveland, Ohio? I mean, number one, it's where we're from. And we want to be close to the first one. But in a fortunate manner, there are a lot of projects coming up that are in New York State, and Pennsylvania and Indiana, and even Ohio. So this geographically isn't so bad. In order to get the blades here, we also leverage out their inventory depots, which are basically storage yards that we have, where we can maintain inventory of our raw stock before we bring it into a processing facility to turn into products.
[Yeager] I would call it like a storage facility somewhere in another state. And then you can see like, fill the warehouse before you bring them?
[Donahue] Pretty much it's open air. So it's like an oil and gas company with a pipe yard that they store all their equipment that they're waiting for future projects on. It's just our raw material.
[Yeager] And when you say there's projects coming online in New York, do you mean projects that are finished with their blades or starting their blades, or you mean like, there's a park and they're going to need a bunch of furniture for that park.
[Donahue] So when I say the projects in New York, they're old turbines that are coming down and having new ones replaced, so they will have blades that need to be handled that the closest place to bring them would be to Cleveland, Ohio.
[Yeager] And then you're in a geographic location of the Mid East United States, maybe not Midwest, but with West, you really are almost connecting a source to an end location with population that you have to the east of you.
[Donahue] 100% this is a pretty decent distribution point. You know, there's an argument we're on the west side of Cleveland. So we consider ourselves Midwesterners, but the argument can be made.
[Yeager] There was a debate on that recently.
[Donahue] Yes, I saw it lately but it's a pretty good central location. I mean, even bringing the blades we're bringing more blades from Iowa now on a project we're working on. It's not that bad from Iowa and then to get them back out across the country. With our finished product, we can we ship in full truckload? So we shipped six to 10 products on a truckload at a time so we maximize the freight there as well, on the outbound.
[Yeager] Are you at the same site as the processing facility with your office?
[Donahue] No, we have a headquarters in Rocky River. And then we have a 110,000 square foot manufacturing facility, it's about 20 minutes west of us in a town called Avon, Ohio.
[Yeager] Give me a sense of how big 110,000 square feet is, like how many blades are fitting in here at one time?
[Donahue] Well, it's all equipment and manufacturing. Inside. We have a I think 15 acre yard. Little further south of that facility where we're storing about 420 blades right now that we're processing 110,000 square feet, I'm never really good at this. I asked him. I mean, it's a large box warehouse. And it was perfect for us because it had high ceilings, we need a lot of open space, you're moving around, first of all 40 foot sections, then you're moving around delays and even the smaller ones, they weighed two to 300 pounds. So once you get them done, a lot of the automation we have is done in that saw. And then it's really our craftsmen that take over and they're smoothing the edges, their ceiling, any damage that's been done, they get hit by hail in the air. Sometimes when they come down, they get dragged across a gravel pad. So we fix that up the edges are very important to us. Because you don't want someone sitting down and walking away with glass splinters. So we've put a lot of r&d into the best way to seal that and we're really happy with the way the products are going out in that regard. 10,000 square feet of it. Which I guess is what 1000 by 1000? Yeah, I'm gonna embarrass myself here on the math but as a former trader we created what we call a gallery. And the gallery has different areas and it's full of our products. So we've had a lot of visitors from the wind industry and some of the highest levels of the OEMs and some of the wind farm owners come out and it's great for them to see the manufacturing side so they know it can be done at scale but then they can't really see it in space. So we created this gallery so when they walk in they understand what our products look like out there in a park and on a city street. We've created a whole experience for them when they come visit.
[Yeager] Let's talk about the products that you have because I've seen you kind of mentioned I joked about a table earlier. Benches. What are the main like top five uses and then we can then give me some of those easy things that you've been trying?
[Donahue] So we have nine products in our lineup right now. And they are all benches except for a picnic table that we make that is sold as a set with two benches. It's really unlike any picnic table you've ever seen, because it's got the crescent of a wind turbine blade underneath it. And a composite lumber top or a board we use that's made out of recycled plastic pulled from the ocean, the carpet industry. But a majority of them are benches. And they are benches unlike anything you've ever seen. They're made with a halfmoon crescent of the root, or it's a full circle of the root end and the bolt hole is still exposed with a bench or a swing inside of it that people can sit in the covered part of it is great, because if you're down south, it will protect it from the sun. If you're in Cleveland, it's not normally as sunny as it is today, you could be protected from a light drizzle and still reading your book and enjoying looking at the scenery from the bench. So yeah, most of what we do are benches except for that table.
[Yeager] And are these benches I saw on the website? You have different cities that have bought some of your product and put them in parks or things like it. Is that who your big client is? Or are we already to the big box store side of things?
[Donahue] No. So they belong in public spaces, the mission of Canvus is to create an ecosystem for all to amplify public spaces. Because every community has space. Some of it is really well done and well maintained. And our products just go in there and add to that some of it is a patch of grass and they say well, let's make a pocket park and use these benches. So we're targeting the communities because they have public spaces, they've got parks, they've got schools and just open areas they can put these. But we then work two different ways to get our products in other communities. Because municipalities are not always flush with budget. A lot of towns you know, they don't have room all the time to buy amenities like benches. So we look at two different ways we have something what we call a legacy bench program. And so it's you'll walk around the city and see a memorial bench and it's got a little plaque or it's carved in, you know, in memory of grandma Helen, our legacy bench not only can be used to honor someone who's no longer with us, but it can be honored to us to honor the legacy of someone who's still in the community, for example, we have a city in California, we shipped benches to an outside their VFW they made the we each product has a plaque that links to a digital platform. And they get to tell a story. The story they told us about a veteran from that community who went missing an action in Vietnam. And his brother was actually there for the dedication and was able to be a part of that. So the legacy bench program is wonderful for a way for citizens to be able to put these products out in their community and tell a story about their family, the others what we call sponsor a space, we work with local businesses, we work with national brands, large foundations and organizations to go ahead and make an impact in the communities where they operate. So every business that's in a community has a community connection, a lot of them like to give back and be a good steward and a good member of that community. And a lot of them also have a material connection, our friends and partners in the wind industry. We've helped solve a problem that they've had and the narrative that's not been great for the industry. So they look to get back to communities, and they're starting to buy our products, and then basically what we call sponsor or donate them to a community. And then local businesses will do the same, though by a couple of benches. And again, that digital platform not talking about grandma Helen on this case, but talking about the business contains a series of links to their website. So we've worked with restaurants that have links to their menus, their reservations, their merchandise, you know, all that kind of stuff. They can change it 10 times a day, they can change it once a year, but it's effectively a great marketing tool that will be out there for 20 to 30 years for the business.
[Yeager] I always pause when I say this, what I'm about when it comes to marketing and say schools and an opportunity to share to students that this is an alternative for the wind blade. And you know, there's certain schools that might be more STEM-related and and they have products that are from upcycled recycled component products. I mean, that's an opportunity to add, we'll use education, as opposed to market to students. Is that something that you're looking at?
[Donahue] It's really, schools are a great place to put it. We use three words around here inspire, imagine and share. And that's really where Canvus came from was was from the early days just looking at a problem differently. Not looking at how can we destroy this blade, but how can we use it so we love the aspect of being at schools and inspiring a young mind. Not necessarily to come up with the next best idea for fiberglass blades. Um, we don't really want the competition, but what can they look at differently in problems that they're solving in school or STEM is a perfect example of how things can be done. We've had schools in the Cleveland area, and unfortunately, you know, it's gonna be mostly local, but we've had them bring their engineering students through from high school and their business students to see how we tackle the problem. And the third aspect of it, a lot of our products that go out, we have a program called par, where we don't paint the product with a finished color. It's just white primer. And we've had artists that come to our Cleveland facility, they take it on, and they paint that product and make it their own from their vision. Or they can be shipped out like we're shipping products to Austin, Texas right now that are just the white primer, they have nine local artists that are going to paint those and there'll be on Rainey Street and in Austin for everyone to see that opens it up to artists and and you have Cleveland artists that are now getting recognized all over the country, because they're painting our products, they're going out and they're putting it on their social media. And we can't wait to see what the artists in Austin do and broadcast that to every one as well.
[Yeager] An individual touch to every product. So I like that and then showcasing it. Okay. You mentioned competition and other companies that are doing this. But let's go to the side of other locations then for your product. What is, I think, benches that I have sat at in parks and go, this is chained to the ground? How heavy is this thing? And how easily? Will it stay in place? In the elements?
[Donahue] Great question. All of our products are made with feet that can be mounted to a concrete pad or even to a grass area you can still mount them with rods and things of that nature. But even our picnic table, I didn't realize really until we got pretty deep into this, how much furniture is stolen from public spaces, especially picnic tables and benches, or how much of it's just stacked up on top of each other at night by some kids. Our picnic benches weigh about 150 to 200 pounds, the table has to be at least 400 to 500 pounds. And some of our benches, that large circular ones are 2000 pounds, some of our benches are 600 to 900. So I'm always fond of saying if a couple of kids can pick that up and take it more power to him. They're not going anywhere in ideally, but a lot of communities that get them are still just putting the bolts in and mounting them down for safety and to keep them from going away.
[Yeager] We have an issue with there's always the reusable product and wood has been one of those that it will withstand and but at the end of the day it does rock and it does deteriorate. Is this a viable option for say the National Park Service as they're trying to retrofit things into Yellowstone or glacier or wherever that needs it? I mean, is that a big scale idea for Canvus at some point.
[Donahue] So one of the things we do in terms of the materials we use, we want our product, our product is the foundation of our brand. And it revolves around the product. It revolves then around collaborations with artists with collaborations with other sponsors and collaborations with families who want to create a legacy bench. Because those all create experiences and engagement. So we focused heavily on the product. We over engineered it. The last thing you want is every time these land in a community, there's a PR event, there's local media, there's joy because they've never seen anything like it and the calls we get are great and the sponsors are there and there's ribbon cutting or there's artists painting them. So the last thing we want is two months down the road as well this broke already and and you know this isn't really as exciting as it seems. So we spent a lot of time there. The fiberglass blades are retired, right they had a job to produce energy. They did it well and then they came down. So that's the framework and foundation of our product. What we did was tied in with other retired materials. So composite lumber is all made from recycled plastic, shrink grab bags, grocery bags, all sorts of stuff. And that will last the fiber guys blade another 20 to 40 years out there. The composite lumber will last at least 20 years and is warrantied that long. We use recycled rubber to make a bench. Tires that were on our cars and trucks now ground up and turned into a bench combined with shoes that are ground up by some of the biggest shoe manufacturers in the world from their plants and then also shoes that they collect back. So post industrial post consumer and then that board I mentioned that combines those floating island As of plastic being taken out of the ocean, the carpet industry waste, because it's all mixed polymer and then also municipal waste that can't be separated. any longer. All goes into that. So we picked materials that will last the test of time. The problem with a lot of benches and things that you see out there, you do have wood and even treated wood is going to wear down a lot faster than a composite lumber. And you have a lot of steel and iron being used in the construction, and you get a lot of rust and things of that nature. All of our material is put on aluminum frames, also high recycled content. And then steel, steel, stainless steel fasteners are used to really make it stand the test of time.
[Yeager] I'm just envisioning all of these ideas that you keep bringing up my well that could go there. Well, that'd be a good spot there. What's one of the most unique places? You have a product and what product is the most unique?
[Donahue] Gosh, that's a good question. I will say when you work at Canvus and being a part of this for little over a year now for myself, you look at the world differently. I mean, I go on a hike with my family, and they're enjoying the nature and everything. And I'm looking at the past and we could have a bench there, you could put a Deborah there, Fe over here. We've seen a lot. We shipped a lot of product down to Port Arthur, Texas is one community, they have a park called Pleasure Island, that's a marina and it's on the water. And so a lot of our products, the willow especially, because we cut it from the apex of the blade, it's got sort of a wave shape to it. So it's really interesting to see them on a boardwalk or along a shore side, where people are sitting looking at the water in a product that basically looks like the shape of a wave made from a retired wind turbine blade.
[Yeager] You mentioned you had 40 at the off site warehouse, how many blades you're going through a year?
[Donahue] We anticipate that we'll be able to upcycle, probably somewhere between 1300 and 1700 blades per year. So probably about 1500.
[Yeager] And what is that number, what's the words that fit in the percentage of use in the US that were retiring at any given point?
[Donahue] The estimates over the last couple years have been about five to 8000 blades coming down on top of the 1500, we can upcycle because we need it for our own purpose, we can also probably process and grind another 1500 blades. So 3000 Out of the five to 8000. What we're really anticipating now though, is over the next five years, the IRA that was passed last year, pumped a lot of money into renewable energy, solar wind battery. So there are going to be a lot of projects upcoming the estimates say it could be 10 to 15,000 blades a year for the next five years. So when I mentioned collaborations, we're also always collaborating with universities that have been working on this problem. What else can we do with it? In our gallery, it's kind of funny how it worked out. When we built the gallery, we needed some demarcation and so we made blade walls. So 16 foot tall sections of blade mounted to the ground. To create it, we have one that we actually created and brought in a local artist that painted the whole wall and made it a piece of art. And it was for our own purpose. But everyone that has come and visited the gallery said, Well, we would love a wall in our community, you know, you can make a mural. Every community has artists, and every artist wants to paint something and they run out of space. So you could put up a wall, we are working with a group at University of Houston to see could it be viable as a sound wall along the highway and bouncing it off each other and canceling out that sound? If we can explore opportunities like that, you know, the products will always be our core. But you know if we can have special projects call it if you will, and things like walls and other things, you know, that would eat up all 10 to 15,000 blades, it doesn't take a lot of miles a highway to really make a dent in that. And that's really our goal is to responsibly handle as many of these blades coming down as we can.
[Yeager] Because the pictures of the blades being buried in some field in Texas aren't good for anyone.
[Donahue] It's such a bad narrative. And and and, you know, to an extent there have been people that tried and failed and maybe were a little too ambitious and left piles, there's still one in Iowa there's one in Texas, the famous bulldozer of Casper, Wyoming pushing dirt over them in the landfill. It's not a good story for an industry that's really trying to do the right thing. And that's where we wanted to come in and help and because of our digital platform, a wind energy company that is sponsoring these products gets to Be a part of the story. And they get to tell how you may have heard this about fiberglass blades. But you know, you're sitting on one right now combined with these other retired materials. And it does drive a good PR side of it that the industry needs. They needed a win on blades. And we're hoping that we're providing it to him.
[Yeager] If the blade was headed for the landfill, does that mean that the input cost for you is lower because that product was or is there when someone sees there's value, all of a sudden they're pointing to their chin and not their forehead.
[Donahue] We've had, we've had a couple of different ways we've gotten blade, some of them, some of them have come at no charge to us, some of them depending on the urgency we've been paid to take. And that means a lot because it shows the industry supports what we're doing. They know there's value in the end product, but they're also helping us as we get started, make sure we have the material we need to turn in the product and make this as big a solution as we need to.
[Yeager] Fascinating to see them. If so, if you're on it and you see one already maybe split there's a good chance it's headed to Ohio and to a public area near you. That's right. Brian Donohue I appreciate the time from Canvus and the insight and just fascinating to hear the brains. I love it. Thank you, Brian.
[Donahue] Thanks so much.
[Yeager] My thanks to Brian Donahue for his time from Canvas. If you have feedback for me or the podcast, send me an email MarkettoMarket@IowaPBS.org. New episodes of this podcast come out each and every Tuesday, wherever you get audio or you can watch us on YouTube and watch the video discussion as well. Bye bye.