The wind turbine industry is one of the fastest growing markets. Current turbines are huge with turbine rotor diameters of over 100m becoming standard. EU energy policy calls for 20% of the EU's 3040Th/y electricity demand to come from renewable sources by 2020, which constitutes a market of some 140€ billion and wind energy is the clear front runner.
Presently in situ blade inspection is carried out every 3-6 month visually or with manual operatives involved in dangerous abseiling. In certain cases, a blade is dismantled and transported onshore, making the turbine downtime very high.
The AUTOWINSPEC project will provide a system to automatically estimate the condition and remaining lifespan of the blades, by eliminating dangerous rope access and reducing downtime whilst increasing productivity.
The inspection involves the following steps:
- An autonomous robotic system crawls along the blade.
- Using novel Acousto-Ultrasonic NDE technique the condition of the blades is estimated.
- The NDT equipment is applied through probes based on a gimbal structure to perform the inspection as a continuous spot measurement process to cover the blades.
- The coordinates and respective measurements are stored and through novel signal analysis techniques a map of the mechanical properties of the blades is produced pinpointing defects and estimating the remaining life of the entire blade.
The AUTOWINSPEC system aims for a target reduction of 84% in maintenance costs, since the inspection process will be completed in half time compared to current practice eliminating the need for trained operators. By including the reduction of revenue loss through increased downtime, overall savings can be greater. In addition, project SMEs will have enhanced access to the EU wind turbine maintenance market, set to reach 42€ billion, i.e. 30% of renewable sources revenue by 2020.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call
Funding SchemeBSG-SME - Research for SMEs
CB21 6DR Cambridge