This project will develop an integrated system to monitor continuously the condition of wind turbine blades, without human intervention on site, using a novel integration of acoustic emission (AE) and long range ultrasonics (LRU). The system will use flexible light weight sensors. It will not be hardwired, deriving its power from energy harvested from the continuous flexing of the blade and transmitting its data to a unit housed in the nacelle using Bluetooth technology. The nacelle unit will transmit data by wireless to the wind farm s central control base.
The project will:
- Develop novel flexible transducers suitable for embedding in composite turbine blades with integrated AE and LRU capability enabling detection of flaws in the blades. This will be the first time that the same transducer array has been used for both AE and LRU functions. Validate the reliability of the sensor/transducer systems and associated electronic modules through a stringent environmental test scheme. System assembly and potential manufacturing routes will also be established. Develop a central software program with high-level functions comprising data collection, signal processing, data analysis and representation, information storage and user interface. Additional software will be developed to enable focusing of LRU at the point where AE has identified a significant potential failure source. Undertake modular integrations of the sensors/transducers, signal processing and software functionalities to develop the prototypes and demonstrate its the capability to monitor and to reduce the maintenance costs of large scale wind turbines. Develop a system based on the use piezoelectric actuators to harvest energy from the flexing of the blade and to use this energy to power the AE/LRU system Develop wireless communication systems between the sensors on the blades and a unit in the nacelle and between the nacelle and a central control base.