Composite Repair in Wind Turbine Blades: An Overview

K B Katnam, A J Comer, D Roy, L F M da Silva, T M Young

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Renewable energy sources such as wind energy-together with energy-efficient technologies-are essential to meet global energy demands and address climate change. Fiber-reinforced polymer composites, with their superior structural properties (e.g., high stiffness-to-weight) that allow lightweight and robust designs, play a significant part in the design and manufacture of modern wind turbines, especially turbine blades, for demanding service conditions. However, with the current global growth in onshore/offshore wind farm installations (with total global capacity of similar to 282GW by the end of 2012) and trend in wind turbine design (similar to 7-8MW turbine capacity with similar to 70-80m blade length for offshore installations), one of the challenges that the wind energy industry faces with composite turbine blades is the aspect of structural maintenance and repair. Although wind turbines are typically designed for a service life of about 20 years, robust structural maintenance and repair procedures are essential to ensure the structural integrity of wind turbines and prevent catastrophic failures. Wind blades are damaged due to demanding mechanical loads (e.g., static and fatigue), environmental conditions (e.g., temperature and humidity) and also manufacturing defects. If material damage is not extensive, structural repair is the only viable option to restore strength since replacing the entire blade is not cost-effective, especially for larger blades. Composite repairs (e.g., external and scarf patches) can be used to restore damaged laminate/sandwich regions in wind blades. With composite materials in the spar (similar to 30-80mm thick glass/carbon fiber laminates) and aerodynamic shells (sandwich sections with thin glass fiber skins and thick foam/wood as core), it is important to have reliable and cost-effective structural repair procedures to restore damaged wind blades. However, compared to aerospace bonded repairs, structural repair procedures in wind blades are not as well developed and thus face several challenges. In this regard, the area of composite repair in wind blades is broadly reviewed to provide an overview as well as identify associated challenges.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-139
    Number of pages27
    JournalJournal of Adhesion
    Volume91
    Issue number1-2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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