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Innovative Leading Edge Protection System for Wind Turbine Blades

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - LEP4BLADES (Innovative Leading Edge Protection System for Wind Turbine Blades)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-01-31

Wind Power sector is currently facing a dramatic problem which is shattering all wind blades over 50 m and causes losses between €100 million and €130 million a year across the European wind fleet.
As a consequence of the high speed reached at the tip of the wind blades when the rotor spins, the leading edge of the wind blades is eroding much faster than expected due to the effect of the rain, dust and suspended particles.
Blade erosion reduces the annual energy production of a wind turbine by between 4% and 20%, depending on the level and severity of the erosion. Repairing costs of a set of 3 blades is estimated in a minimum of € 50,000 in onshore wind farms and about twice this amount in off-shore facilities.
Blade erosion is now the largest issue, affecting all WT types and wind energy operators and it is directly related to the increase of the Levelised cost of Energy (LCoE).
Aerox Advanced Polymers SL (AEROX), a Spanish SME whose activity is focused on the development of innovative coating and adhesive solutions for the manufacture of wind blades, developed in 2016 a breakthrough technology which allows the manufacturing of polymeric materials with extraordinary erosion resistance.
After two years of work, in AEROX we have created under our proprietary technology a coating solution which, according to independent standard performance tests, is able to protect the leading edge of wind blades during the 25-years expected lifespan.
The main objective of the project consists in scaling-up the manufacturing and application processes of AEROX AHP LEP system, the improvement of the technology as well as the validation of the solution with OEMs, blade manufacturers and service companies.
Communication activities have been actively performed during the period. Following a complete communication plan created at the beginning of the project, communication material and a project logo have been designed and printed. Moreover, more than 30 meetings with potentical parners and customers have been arranged.

The product has been adapted to be manufactured and applied at large scale. Some adjustments had to be done in the product to fit the requirements after the scaling-up. The packaging system has also been selected and verified. Adhesion, rain erosion performance and sag resistance, among other parametres, have been tested and verified according to previously established requirements. The final definition of the manufacturing and application processes will be made by the end of August 2019.

It has been carried out the development of advanced material models for the prediction of the behaviour of the AEROX AHP LEP depending on many different inputs including the characteristics of the material, the interfaces between the different layers and the environmental conditions.
The model was created with a combination of current ones such as the Springer model and the Havriliak-Negami viscoelastic model but incorporating Proper Generalized Decomposition analysis (PGD) and the Cohesive Zone Modelling (CZM).
The AEROX AHP Technology has been improved through the modulation of the molecular weight of the polymers conforming the coating and adjusting the rheology as well as curing and working times.

Validation of the AEROX AHP LEP System is being carried out with an OEM and a service company in charge of the mainenance of the blades os several wind farms in Europe. Special attention is being paid to comply with final user requirements as well as their application procedures. Demonstration of the AEROX AHP LEP system will start in June 2019.

A complete commercialisation plan was created during the first months of the project with a description of the actions planned for the introduction in the market and exploitation of the results of the LEP4BLADES project. The results achieved during the project have been presented in Wind Energy Hamburg 2018, Wind Turbine Blade Manufacture 2018 and JEC World Technical Conferences 2019. IPR Protection Strategy has already been defined and the plan is currently being followed.
At the end of the project, the company will be able to launch to the market the AEROX AHP LEP System which will be used to protect the leading edge of wind turbine blades against erosion caused by rain, hail and other particles during their whole expected lifetime. To do so, large scale manufacturing and application processes are being defined and the product is being validated by final users.
The most important benefit of AEROX AHP LEP solution is associated to the savings obtained thanks to the avoidance of the erosion. Additionally, the applicability and adaptability of the coating to each user are key for customers to be willing to pay. The product will contribute to the reduction of the Levelised Cost of Energy, making wind energy cheaper and more affordable for the European society.
Project Logo
AEROX Team at Wind Turbine Blade Manufacture 2018
Project Logo
AEROX Team at JEC World Technical Conferences 2019
AEROX Team at WindEnergy Hamburg 2018