New wind blade research facility
A new research facility in Denmark will allow scientists to experiment with different physical loads on wind turbine blades to develop larger and stronger blades.
Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy in Denmark says that the explosive growth within wind energy and the development of several turbines with blades of 60m or more means that there is a greater need for research into the design and structure of wind turbine blades.
If blades are just upgraded without simultaneous optimisation, the weight will increase faster than the wind turbine performance. Scientist are working on new forms of reinforcement to reduce the weight of blades and to change the structure to support it precisely where it is weakest.
"By using the latest knowledge and reinforcing the blades, we expect that the weight of tomorrow's blades can be reduced substantially," says Find Mølholt Jensen who is head of the new research test facility.
Risø DTU has patented several reinforcements based on Mølholt's PhD thesis. One of the inventions for example, has proved to increase buckling strength by 30-40 percent. It stills remains for the reinforcement to be integrated into the blade manufacturing process, but Risø DTU hopes that this can be solved.
The new Experimental Research Facility for Blade Structure is big enough to accommodate a 30-40m wind turbine blade in the big hall. SSP Technology A/S has donated a 34m blade and the blade has been mounted with differing measuring equipment, which differs significantly from the way traditionally commercial tests are performed today.
The many tests and measurements are going to be used to validate seven patents on various structural reinforcements which have been taken out by Risø DTU during the past 3-5 years. They will also make it possible to evaluate and improve the different methods being used to approve wind turbine blades.