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Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2019-08-31

Wind power is one of the world keys to reach the objective of a clean sustainable energy system. However, the Levelized cost of Energy (LCOE) is still the Achilles Heel of this energy source, and cost reduction the main goal of the industry.
Operations and maintenance (O&M) of turbines involve around 20% of the LCOE of wind power, with an annual expenditure of €15bn. Blades are the most critical component of turbines due to their structure, size and exposition to environmental conditions. For this reason, blades are always protected with optimized coatings. 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.
Traditionally, the quality control of blades coatings has been carried out just by visual inspection. However, internal integrity of the coating usually fails, being unappreciable for the eye.
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 (Figure 2).
As a result of the commercialization plan of NOTUS and thanks to the European funding, das Nano will also reach some important economic, social and environmental objectives (Table 1).
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 three different THz spectrometers: 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.
- The productive process must be of high-quality and therefore it needs NOTUS-factory. The shape of fabricated blades must match precisely the industrial design to face the inclement weather: the materials, layer thicknesses, adherence between layers must be as designed. NOTUS-factory allows a non-destructive, robust, automatic and quality control system in the different steps of the manufacturing process.
- 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 real this cutting-edge technology 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 first year of our SME grant? 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. Currently, we have two patents about THz technology to be able to commercially exploit the results of our developments and products in a safe way.
- Optimization of the conceptual design
- Creation of a materials database to ease the challenges of the researches and developers
- 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
- Improved graphical user interfaces
- A first demonstrator of the optimized concept is being currently built
- Demonstration of THz technology to companies of different industrial sectors
- ISO 9001 certification
- Continuous search for the establishment of partnership relations with distribution companies
- Communication to the world

Concluding, SME grant has allowed us to improve the conceptual design of our THz spectrometers to face the challenges of the wind energy sector, in the whole life cycle of the wind blades. Several actions h
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 description
NOTUS-field image
das-Nano prize to the Innovative Company
NOTUS-lab image
NOTUS-field image
Economic, social and environmental impact
NOTUS-field image
NOTUS-field image
NOTUS-factory image