Shooting turbine blades with elastomer projectiles for longer lifetime

The erosion occuring when raindrops hit the front / leading edge of turbine blades is one of the most critical degradation mechanisms on wind turbine blades. If the number of on-site repairs could be reduced, the resulting savings would be immense.

To develop new and better turbine blade coatings, tools for measuring of the performance are required. A novel accelerated erosion test method, a so-called Single Point Impact Fatigue Tester (SPIFT), is successfully developed during a Materials Fast Track project as a part of the on-going PhD-project by Nicolai Frost-Jensen Johansen from DTU in collaboration with Siemens Gamesa and Hempel.

Existing rain erosion tools can simulate the effect of many water droplets hitting the leading edge. However, no tools exist that can generate droplets hitting a single point. Without the ability to impact a single point, it is not possible to understand the interaction between a droplet and the protective coating, and how it leads to erosion.

Since it is not possible to accelerate individual droplets of water to a specific target, the idea was formulated to substitute droplets with solid elastomer projectiles of comparable size, speed, and density to that of rain, and shoot these towards a stationary target. This idea led to the construction of the SPIFT (Single Point Impact Fatigue Tester).

With the SPIFT, the actual damages can now be compared to analytical and numerical simulations, and as a result of this critical material parameters can be isolated. Consequently, new coatings are now being developed based on a stronger imperial and analytical foundation made possible by the SPIFT.

Are you interested in learning more about the SPIFT and how Fast Track can be used as a catalyst for progress in technology developments, please contact us here: