Repairing wind turbine blades is not always a simple task, especially as turbines age and the damages become increasingly severe. Maintenance and smaller-scale repairs keep a turbine in good condition for longer. However, they cannot wholly halt deterioration.
The most exposed areas of a machine, particularly if subject to various climate conditions, degrade fastest. On a wind turbine, the blades are most open to weather and motion damage and deteriorate fastest.
The root of a wind turbine blade faces some of the harshest conditions in terms of weather and dynamic stress. At the heart of turbine rotation, problems with the blade root mean issues with operating the turbine and producing energy.
Threaded inserts connect the blade root to the nacelle hub of a wind turbine. Over time, these threads can become loose, or micro-cracks can form. Contaminants like hydraulic oil and grease can leak into microcracks and weaken bonds, which can undermine the structural integrity of the blade root and even result in the blade breaking away.
Wind turbine blade repairing for issues found at the component’s root was previously extremely challenging to conduct, especially cost-effectively. Generally, such repairs required completely removing the blade from the rest of the turbine, which meant a logistically tricky process and often resulted in the wind turbine being non-operational for extended periods.
Given the extreme challenges involved in repairing wind turbine blades and roots, it is unsurprising that many turbine owners chose to purchase a new blade instead. Replacements meant a new blade could be connected as soon as the old one was removed, resulting in less downtime for the turbine. In some cases, especially with older wind turbines, even a replacement would be considered inefficient. Occasionally, businesses would cut losses and scrap the entire turbine instead of repairing the root.
The Danish company, CNC, has developed a new portable tool to assist in replacing damaged blade root inserts. This tool provides a more precise and economical repair method. In addition, it eliminates issues of transporting a damaged blade offsite and waiting for repairs to be completed to get the turbine back up and running.
With CNC’s new tool, repairs can be conducted onsite. Repairing wind turbine blades and roots onsite means no waiting for transport and allows the blade to be re-attached faster.
CNC’s onsite method involves dismounting the blade and taking it to a suitable onsite repair environment. Here, the portable machine will automatically align itself with the blade to drill away the blade inserts. The device will also automatically ensure the drilled hole has the same diameter as the new inserts so the replacements can quickly be fitted and fastened with bonding material.
Innovative strategies are becoming increasingly essential as wind energy assumes a more vital role in filling energy demands. Luckily, businesses and individuals within the wind industry are stepping up to find better ways to produce and keep producing the clean and sustainable energy needed.
Want to stay up-to-date on the latest news or are interested in working in the wind energy sector? Visit Altitec for more information and hands-on learning experiences which could help you land a job in the growing industry.