Why Acoustic Emission Structural Health Monitoring is the Future

Renewable Advice Ltd has been working in the field of blade inspection and repair since 2008. We have seen, first hand, the scale of damages and destruction that can result from the lack of regular inspection and subsequent maintenance of wind turbine blades. 

The challenge is normally one of budgets. A blade maintenance budget is capped and covers both inspection and repair. Therefore, most owners want to maximise the amount of budget available for blade repair as this has the greatest impact on blade and turbine performance. 

With conventional blade monitoring, strain gauges are employed to measure strains and therefore loads in the blade. This information is utilised to regulate blade pitch control to reduce loads. These systems will only detect a deviation in strain from a crack once the crack is sufficiently large. ‘Sufficiently large’ is a major structural repair or if not detected in time, catastrophic failure of the blade. 

Blade Save’s unique ability to ‘listen’ to the noises within the structure of the blade means that it can detect high frequency sounds that are generated when a crack forms and propagates. This results in early detection of a defect, meaning that the repair is smaller and turbine downtime is minimised. Smaller repairs simply mean that the maintenance budget goes a lot further.

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