Wind energy production is rapidly increasing to help satisfy growing global energy demands. In a push to increase wind energy production efficiency and reduce costs, turbines are becoming larger with rotor diameters ever increasing. High reliability and low maintenance is critical for these large turbines, however, the difference in wind speed at the top and bottom of such large rotors (wind shear) is greater. This leads to rotor imbalances which lower conversion efficiency and reduce the fatigue life of the drivetrain components. Individual pitch control (IPC) of the blades solves this issue by minimising rotor imbalance, so increasing efficiency, extending life and reducing maintenance costs.
IPC algorithms require real-time loads data for each blade to be available at high speed. Measuring these loads with electronic sensors is impossible due to the frequency of lightning strikes to the blades. Blade load monitoring systems using optical fiber Bragg grating sensors have broad industry acceptance due to the technology’s insensitivity to lighting strike.
The SmartBlade Optical Blade Loads Monitoring System benefits from highly robust aerospace qualified instrumentation, a long and successful deployment history and a price point that meets industry needs.
Our all optical strain sensors in the rotorblades can survive the frequent lightning strikes, and have been tested to the tens of millions of high load cycles that a rotorblade will encounter in its lifetime.
Our SmartScan interrogators offer the high resolution needed for control applications, and have demonstrated the robustness required for years of service in a rotating hub.
The SmartBlade system also outputs blade bending moments that can be used for condition monitoring. Rainflow counting of these data shows remaining blade fatigue life and allows blades to be serviced or exchanged at the most appropriate intervals.
With suitable processing, data from the SmartBlade system can also be used to detect blade ice formation and melting. This knowledge helps operators maximise the availability of turbines in cold regions, whilst reducing the danger of ice shedding.
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