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 with nacelle 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 significant cost of ownership savings through condition-based maintenance, reduced downtime and a reduced likelihood of catastrophic failure.
This project developed novel tooling, complying with wind turbine requirements (easily and rapidly mounted,lightweight and robust), to enable the on site performance of the three major composite repair steps: non-destructive inspection (NDI), surface preparation and hot bonding.The developments included:
- NDI: existing ultrasonic testing equipment adapted to enable fast reliable tracing of the nature and boundaries of the damage with minimum infrastructure requirements
- surface preparation: a fully automated portable laser system was developed to remove the flaw and prepare the surface prior to repair. This system can be placed on the blade area to be processed, to create the required geometry of the damaged area by entering the desired dimensions into the laptop control computer
- hot bonding and vacuum bagging: especially designed heating blankets and vacuum holders were developed for easier simultaneous application of heating and vacuum on site in order to simplify and accelerate the repair 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% 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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