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https://doi.org/10.5194/wes-2018-22
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Research articles 03 Apr 2018

Research articles | 03 Apr 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Wind Energy Science (WES).

Remote surface damage detection on rotor blades of operating wind turbines by means of infrared thermography

Dominik Traphan1, Iván Herráez2, Peter Meinlschmidt3, Friedrich Schlüter3, Joachim Peinke1, and Gerd Gülker1 Dominik Traphan et al.
  • 1Forwind, Institute of Physics, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany
  • 2Department of Technology, University of Applied Sciences Emden/Leer, Emden, Germany
  • 3Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institute WKI, Braunschweig, Germany

Abstract. Wind turbines are constantly exposed to wind gusts, dirt particles, and precipitation. Depending on the site, surface defects on rotor blades emerge from the first day of operation on. While erosion increases quickly with time, even small defects can affect the performance of the wind turbine due to nonlinear interaction. Consequently, there is a demand for a remote and easily applicable condition monitoring method for rotor blades that is capable of detecting surface defects at an early stage. In this work it is analyzed if infrared thermography (IRT) can meet these requirements by visualizing differences in the thermal transport and the corresponding surface temperature of the wall-bounded flow.

Firstly, a validation of the IRT method against stereoscopic particle image velocimetry measurements is performed comparing both types of experimental results for the boundary layer of a flat plate. Then, the main characteristics of the flow in the wake of generic surface defects on different types of lifting surfaces are studied both experimentally and numerically: temperature gradients behind protruding surface defects on a flat plate and a DU 91-W2-250 profile are studied by means of IRT. The same is done with the wall shear stress from RANS simulations of a wind turbine blade. It is consistently observed both in the experiments and the simulations that turbulent wedges are formed on the flow downstream of generic surface defects. These wedges provide valuable information about the kind of defect that generates them. At last, experimental and numerical performance measures are taken into account for evaluating the aerodynamic impact of surface defects on rotor blades. We conclude that the IRT method is a suitable remote condition and performance monitoring technique for detecting surface defects on wind turbines at an early stage.

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Short summary
Wind turbines are exposed to harsh weather. While surface defects on rotor blades emerge from the first day of operation on, they grow quickly and affect the performance of a wind turbine. There is thus a demand for a remote and easily applicable inspection method that is sensitive to small surface defects. In this work we show that infrared thermography can meet these requirements by visualizing differences in the surface temperature of the rotor blade downstream of surface defects.
Wind turbines are exposed to harsh weather. While surface defects on rotor blades emerge from...
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