The joint efforts of the BladeSave Consortium, formed by Renewable Advice Ltd, TWI, Emergya Wind Technologies B.V., Halliburton and ASSIST Software have resulted in what proves to be a successful project. Using a combination of the partners’ expertise in structural health monitoring (SHM), fibre optic sensing technology, and management software incorporating risk-based blade data analysis, the BladeSave system represents an innovative solution for the wind energy industry.
Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world’s energy markets. However, wind turbine blades are susceptible to fatigue failure and adverse environmental effects. Once a fatigue crack has initiated, it will propagate, if it is not detected and mended in due time. This could be avoided by employing a condition monitoring system meant to constantly asses blade status. This way, blade flaws can be detected at an early stage and dealt with immediately, preventing, therefore, potential costly blade replacements.
The BladeSave system features an innovative design, which offers multi-sensing capabilities including acoustic emission (AE), vibrations and strain, achieved with Fibre Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors. This all-optic design brings the benefits of system’s immunity to static electricity, EMI noise and lightning. BladeSave also combines a blade management software (windmanager) linking the data from inspection and maintenance to the SHM data, providing, thus, a comprehensive solution for wind turbine blade monitoring, repair and management.
The solution offered by BladeSave has been thoroughly tested and the results of the 3- month try-outs in a wind turbine from project partner EWT have been more than satisfying. During the testing period, the system has obtained long-term operational profiles described by processed SHM data including AE, vibration and strain. The BladeSave system has been tested for ice accretion on blade surfaces with simulated mass. The results showed evident detection capabilities.
The final stage of this project, consisting in the ultimate test for a wind turbine blade, entailing destructive testing, will be conducted at TWI. For this testing, controlled cyclic loading will be applied repetitively to gradually simulate blade crack initiation and propagation. In order ensure the accuracy of the results and the efficiency of the BladeSave system, it will be installed to monitor the process, in tandem with a commercial system. BladeSave is expected to successfully demonstrate its capabilities to detect cracks in early stages and bolster upkeep dynamic.
The BladeSave project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme under grant agreement No 760353.