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Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

Wind power is one of the world keys to reach the objective of a clean sustainable energy system. Operations and maintenance (O&M) of turbines involve around 20% of the Levelized cost of Energy (LCOE) of wind power, with an annual expenditure of €15bn. 30% of the O&M costs in the wind power industry are focused on the inspection or reparation of blades coatings. To reduce these costs, it is crucial to ensure the quality of any blade before installation, to avoid premature failure; and to detect coating defects in operating blades, in order to get ahead undesirable stops.

das-Nano has envisaged a market opportunity and has developed NOTUS, the first contact-less tool for non-destructive material inspection specifically designed for wind turbine inspection.
NOTUS can perform deep characterization of individual layers of any coating structure and any blade, independently on materials. NOTUS is the first non-destructive tool in the market with the capability of quantifying inter-layer adherence, being able to anticipate possible defects and therefore, to prevent from downtime and blade changes in already installed turbines.

In order to improve the quality control of the blades along their entire life cycle, das-Nano has designed and manufactured 3 different types of NOTUS along the SME project:
- Notus-lab: addressed to materials research, development and quality control.
- Notus-factory: addressed to the automatic inspection of blades during the manufacturing processes.
- Notus-field: addressed to the inspection of operating blades at wind farms, but also useful in manufacturing plants.
Once these 3 demonstrators have been manufactured, tests have been carried out for each type to demonstrate the feasibility of their implementation and the economic and quality benefits that Notus system can bring to the wind power industry.
das-Nano aims at doing its part to make renewable wind energy a reference in Europe and for the world. For this purpose, das Nano has discussed with all kind of wind energy stakeholders (manufacturers, ecologists, politicians, wind farm managers, insurance companies, banks and investors, among others) to know in depth about the weak points of this industry and demonstrate how das-Nano can give solution to them with its terahertz (THz) technology.
das-Nano can reduce operation and maintenance costs by using its THz-based equipment throughout the entire blade life cycle:
(1) to improve the quality control of the blade coating manufacturing process, reducing product excess, increasing blades lifetime and efficiency;
(2) and to detect and foresee failures in blades with a non-destructive method.

How do we adapt our THz equipment to the wind energy sector? das-Nano carries out measurement campaigns with our THz technology in different real environments of the blade life cycle, such as in factories, commercial ports and wind farms, in collaboration with the leaders of the European wind energy market. With all these actions, we have realized that the wind energy industry needs a technological solution in which the hardware can be adapted to the different environments (laboratory, factory and windmill farm) where blades can be found, so das-Nano has developed three solutions according to the detected needs: NOTUS-lab, NOTUS-factory and NOTUS-field.
- NOTUS-lab is envisaged for researchers and developers to test blade coatings, new materials, manufacturing processes, etc. in a fast, complete and easy way.
- NOTUS-factory is designed to control the quality (layer thicknesses and adherence between the materials) during the production process. The technology has been placed on an industrial robot to be able to inspect in an automatic and non-destructive way all the points of a blade, thus assuring the quality of all manufactured units. Another advantage that notus-factory brings to the production process is the early detection of errors, which allows significant savings in rework, which turns into economic savings and reduced environmental impact.
- In the next step of the blade life cycle, their exploitation in wind farms, it is critical to foresee the ageing of the blade coatings, estimation of their lifetime, maintenance controls to detect defects, quality control in transactions between different companies, etc. and always in a non-destructive manner. At this stage, NOTUS-field is a flexible, fast and easy to handle equipment, adapted to the extreme conditions of different environments such as wind farms in mountains, offshore, commercial ports, logistic centers, etc.

To make this cutting-edge technology real there is a highly qualified human team built up of PhD and master’s degrees and in constant development. In the last year, 7 PhD and master’s degrees have been hired to join this project, reinforcing the technical and commercial teams.
And what are the main actions we have done in the project? Hard work has been done in different topics:
- Intellectual protection. We take care of our know-how by patenting it in an international frame and continuously scouting the related patents.
- Optimization of the conceptual design.
- Demonstration of the accuracy of NOTUS with microscope images of the samples, used as a gold standard.
- Improved traceability demanded by the current industry 4.0.
- Improved algorithms calculation (reduction of computational time to adapt to production process time, improved accuracy).
- Improved graphical user interfaces.
- Manufacturing of three demonstrators: Notus-lab, Notus-factory and Notus-field.
- Manufacturing line construction according to the ISO 9001
- ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certification
- CE Marking
- Demonstration of THz technology to companies of different industrial sectors.
- Commercial contacts to gain customers and to establish partnership relations with distribution companies
- Global dissemination and communication.
- Standardization activities on THz technology.

Concluding, SME grant has allowed us to improve the conceptual design of our THz spectrometers to face the challenges of the wind energy sector and other industries such as aeronautic, automotive, advanced materials, etc.
As a result of the Phase 2 of the commercialisation plan of NOTUS and thanks to the European funding, das-Nano will reach some important economic, social and environmental objectives:
- Economic saving: NOTUS has shown a potential annual economic saving of 10 % of O&M costs for wind farm operators.
- Environmental impact: The project will help to impulse low-carbon economy.
- Social impact: New 83 jobs will be created in das-Nano in five years thanks to NOTUS expansion in the market. Direct and indirect employs will contribute to the generation of wealth, social added value and attract highly qualified employment.
Besides, the project addresses global challenges in strategic, being its main goal to conduct cutting-edge research and to design and produce high added value products for technologically advanced industries. Quality control is one of the concepts in EU initiatives expected to be decisive in the future of manufacturing.
The project is also aligned with the EU energy challenges of the future.
NOTUS benefits could be extensible to many other sectors such as Graphene and Automotive.
THz waves in the electromagnetic spectrum
NOTUS-Field image
NOTUS-Field image
NOTUS-Field image
NOTUS-Field image
NOTUS-Lab image
NOTUS-Robot image