On analytical tools for assessing the raindrop erosion of wind turbine blades

K. Pugh, J. Nash, G. Raeburn, M.M. Stack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In renewable energy, the wind sector has been expanding to become one of the largest markets. With this increase in popularity, and drive to expand low carbon technologies, maintenance of wind turbines is crucial, especially the monitoring of the leading edge of turbine blades which see high impact velocities in service. Surface changes due to rain erosion can reduce energy conversion due to a reduction aerodynamic efficiency. This is one of the key areas of interest, as small aerodynamic changes can lead to 2-3% loss in annual energy. Inspection methodologies of turbine blades are very basic, involving an observation and high-definition photographs of the damage. Recent studies investigating the rain erosion of turbine blade materials show that this standard procedure fails to characterise the loss of aerodynamic efficiency in these turbine blades in service or evaluate their performance in an inter-study comparative approach. With the industry moving in the direction of leading edge profile samples, there is a consensus that whirling arm type test rigs are the most applicable testing regimes. There is little overlap in the analysis used in different studies. This review will consider the various techniques used to inspect and characterise the materials and performance used in rain erosion testing. The focus will be on their benefit to overall use within the industry. Findings conclude that a combination of techniques is optimal to analyse suface defects and that subsurface analysis is an important factor that must be considered in any investigation of long term blade integrity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • raindrop erosion
  • wind turbine blades
  • wind energy
  • materials
  • composites
  • polymers
  • erosion maps

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