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Leading edge erosion of wind turbine blades: a sampling of research 

Author:  | Technology

Water droplet erosion of wind turbine blades: mechanics, testing, modeling and future perspectives

Mohamed Elhadi Ibrahim and Mamoun Medraj
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec, Canada

[Abstract] The problem of erosion due to water droplet impact has been a major concern for several industries for a very long time and it keeps reinventing itself wherever a component rotates or moves at high speed in a hydrometer environment. Recently, and as larger wind turbine blades are used,erosion of the leading edge due to rain droplets impact has become a serious issue. Leading-edge erosion causes a significant loss in aerodynamics efficiency of turbine blades leading to a considerable reduction in annual energy production. This paper reviews the topic of water droplet impact erosion as it emerges in wind turbine blades. …

Materials 2020;13:157. doi:10.3390/ma1301015. Download.

A probabilistic long-term framework for site-specific erosion analysis of wind turbine blades: a case study of 31 Dutch sites

Amrit Shankar Verma, Zhiyu Jiang, Zhengru Ren, Marco Caboni, Hans Verhoef, Harald van der Mijle-Meijer, Saullo G.P. Castro, and Julie J.E. Teuwen
Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands; Department of Ships and Ocean Structures, SINTEF Ocean, Trondheim, Norway; Department of Engineering Sciences, University of Agder, Grimstad, Norway; Department of Marine Technology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; TNO Energy Transition, Petten, The Netherlands

[Abstract] Rain-induced leading-edge erosion (LEE) of wind turbine blades (WTBs) is associated with high repair and maintenance costs. The effects of LEE can be triggered in less than 1 to 2 years for some wind turbine sites, whereas it may take several years for others. In addition, the growth of erosion may also differ for different blades and turbines operating at the same site. Hence, LEE is a site- and turbine-specific problem. In this paper, we propose a probabilistic long-term framework for assessing site- specific lifetime of a WTB coating system. Case studies are presented for 1.5 and 10 MW wind turbines, where geographic bubble charts for the leading-edge lifetime and number of repairs expected over the blade’s service life are established for 31 sites in the Netherlands. The proposed framework efficiently captures the effects of spatial and orographic features of the sites and wind turbine specifications on LEE calculations. For instance, the erosion is highest at the coastal sites and for sites located at higher altitudes. In addition, erosion is faster for turbines associated with higher tip speeds, and the effects are critical for such sites where the exceedance probability for rated wind conditions are high. …

Wind Energy 2021 [published online March 26]. doi:10.1002/we.2634. Download.

RADAR-derived precipitation climatology for wind turbine blade leading edge erosion

Frederick Letson, Rebecca J. Barthelmie, and Sara C. Pryor
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

[Abstract] Wind turbine blade leading edge erosion (LEE) is a potentially significant source of revenue loss for windfarm operators. Thus, it is important to advance understanding of the underlying causes, to generate geospatial estimates of erosion potential to provide guidance in pre-deployment planning and ultimately to advance methods to mitigate this effect and extend blade lifetimes. This study focuses on the second issue and presents a novel approach to characterizing the erosion potential across the contiguous USA based solely on publicly available data products from the National Weather Service dual-polarization RADAR. The approach is described in detail and illustrated using six locations distributed across parts of the USA that have substantial wind turbine deployments. Results from these locations demonstrate the high spatial variability in precipitation-induced erosion potential, illustrate the importance of low probability high impact events to cumulative annual total kinetic energy transfer and emphasize the importance of hail as a damage vector.

Wind Energy Science 2019 [published online August 13]. doi:10.5194/wes-2019-43. Download

Rain erosion maps for wind turbines based on geographical locations: a case study in Ireland and Britain

Kieran Pugh and Margaret Stack
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland

[Abstract] Erosion rates of wind turbine blades are not constant, and they depend on many external factors including meteorological differences relating to global weather patterns. In order to track the degradation of the turbine blades, it is important to analyse the distribution and change in weather conditions across the country. This case study addresses rainfall in Western Europe using the UK and Ireland data to create a relationship between the erosion rate of wind turbine blades and rainfall for both countries. …

[Introduction] … One common advance is to install much larger blades, however, this is coupled with substantially greater tip velocities of the blades. These increased velocities create a higher risk of degradation of the leading edge due to impacts from rain erosion. With tip speeds from turbines reaching 300mph, the repeated impact of raindrops is sufficiently energetic to erode the material. The erosion rates of wind turbines have a direct relationship to the environment they are erected. More rainfall will result in more erosion of turbine blades. Typically wind turbine farms are constructed in barren locations due to land availability, wind speeds and away from local beauty spots; however, this results in turbines being subjected to harsh conditions and in some locations heavy rainfall. …

Journal of Bio- and Tribo-Corrosion 2021;7:34. doi:10.1007/s40735-021-00472-0. Download.

Mapping hail meteorological observations for prediction of erosion in wind turbines

Hamish Macdonald, David Infield, David H. Nash, and Margaret M. Stack
Wind Energy Systems CDT and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland

[Abstract] Wind turbines can be subject to a wide range of environmental conditions during a life span that could conceivably extend beyond 20 years. Hailstone impact is thought to be a key factor in the leading edge erosion and damage of the composite materials of wind turbine blades. Using UK meteorological data, this paper demonstrates that the rotational speed is a crucial factor in determining the magnitude of the kinetic energy associated with singular impact and is likely to be significant for incidents of hail. …

Wind Energy 2016;19:777. doi:10.1002/we.1854. Download.

Forurensing fra vindturbinvinger

[Leading edge erosion and pollution from wind turbine blades]
Asbjørn Solberg, Bård-Einar Rimereit, and Jan Erik Weinbach
The Turbine Group, Stavanger, Sogndal, and Trondheim, April 22, 2021 [in Norwegian]. Download.

[Foreword] We have put together a report on an undercommunicated topic: microplastic emissions and possible toxic compounds in them. … Already in 2013, rotor blades for wind turbines accounted for 27% of Europe’s consumption of fiberglass-reinforced epoxy. Depending on the production method for the rotor blades, the epoxy contains as much as ~33% bisphenol A. … Bisphenol A is on the «Norwegian priority list of dangerous substances». (Vi har satt samme en rapport om et underkommunisert tema; utslipp av mikroplast og mulige giftige forbindelser i disse. Allerede i 2013 utgjorde rotorblad til vindkraftverk 27 % av Europas forbruk av glassfiberarmert epoksy. Avhengig av produksjonsmetode for rotorbladene så inneholder epoksyen så mye som ca. 33 % Bisfenol A. Bisfenol A står på «Den norske prioritetslista over farlige stoff».)

English version, July 8, 2021: doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.33339.34080 [download]

The toxic wings – Damage and casualty of wind turbine blades

Asbjørn Solberg, Bård-Einar Rimereit and Jan Erik Weinbach
The Turbine Group, May 9, 2023. Download.

[Summary] This document started with an intention to bring together research and established knowledge about the total extent of major damage to wind turbine blades and the causes. The aim was to obtain figures for how often a modern wind turbine experiences major damage and/or failure of blades. Such numbers could be used to estimate the extent of emissions and the resulting pollution of the natural environment. …


Bisphenol A Pollution from Wind Turbines

Tim Smith
July 13, 2023

This material is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this material resides with the author(s). As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Queries e-mail.

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