This project aims to investigate the suitability of laser ablation techniques for wind turbine blade cleaning

Project Insights

  • €436,540

    Total Project Costs
  • 4 yr

    Project Duration
  • 2019

    Year Funded

Project Description

It has been well established, by both computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modelling and wind tunnel tests, that the fouling of turbine blades has a dramatic negative effect on their aerodynamic performance, and hence on the wind to electrical energy conversion efficiency (CE). Currently the primary solution is wet cleaning which can be labour intensive, hazardous and dirty. The DCU and UCD project consortium propose laser ablation, i.e., the removal of thin layers of material by irradiation of a surface with a pulsed laser, as an alternative green solution. This process has been applied to the delicate task of cleaning everything from cultural artefacts, such as paintings and sculptures, to large buildings of historic interest. As a side effect, the material ablated by the laser forms a light emitting plasma plume which contains spectral signatures (emission lines and bands) that are fingerprints of the elements constituting the material ablated, allowing them to be classified and quantified. This technique is known as LIBS (laser induced breakdown spectroscopy). In addition, the signatures can be used to identify when all contaminants have been removed and the blade surface is clean. Importantly, the laser beam can be raster scanned over the blade from the ground to clean the whole surface in remote or 'standoff' mode. The overarching objective of this project is to develop and apply standoff laser ablation to both classify and quantify blade fouling and to provide a safe, clean and efficient solution to it for wind energy providers.

Project Details

Total Project Cost: €436,540

Funding Agency: SEAI; ESB Group

Year Funded: 2019

Lead Organisation: Dublin City University (DCU)

Partner Organisation(s): University College Dublin (UCD)

John Costello

Lead Researcher