Adapted composite repair tooling for in-situ wind turbine blade structural rehabilitation
The wind turbine industry is the fastest growing market area for the use of composite materials. Current state-of-the-art turbines are increasing in size, providing multi-megawatt power output. To generate such power, turbine rotor blades with diameters exceeding 100m, along withn acelle heights of 120m are becoming standard. As turbines grow and their deployment becomes more widespread and remote, it is becoming increasingly important that systems are put in place to monitor their condition in real time. Such monitoring offers significantcost of ownership savings through condition-based maintenance, reduced downtime and a reduced likelihood of catastrophic failure.
This project developed novel tooling, complying withwind turbine requirements (easily and rapidly mounted,lightweight and robust), to enable the onsite performanceof the three major composite repair steps: non-destructiveinspection (NDI), surface preparation and hot bonding.The developments included:
- NDI: existing ultrasonic testing equipment adaptedto enable fast reliable tracing of the nature andboundaries of the damage with minimum infrastructurerequirements
- surface preparation: a fully automated portable lasersystem was developed to remove the flaw and preparethe surface prior to repair. This system can be placedon the blade area to be processed, to create therequired geometry of the damaged area by entering thedesired dimensions into the laptop control computer
- hot bonding and vacuum bagging: especially designedheating blankets and vacuum holders were developedfor easier simultaneous application of heating andvacuum on site in order to simplify and accelerate therepair process.
The system has the potential to bring about large reductions in the cost of repair itself and to enable on site repair of turbine blades for 90 per cent of cases. Consequently, down-time costs and costs related to those of disassembly of blades and transportation to the repair shop for rehabilitation can be reduced.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 283292.
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