Robowind, LLC announced that it has worked with Professors Praveen Shankar and Mahdi Yoozbashizadeh from California State University to develop robots and robotic tools for wind-turbine blade maintenance. This includes installation of turbine blade performance enhancements and improvements.
Robotic capabilities in development include inspection, cleaning, sanding, blade repair, painting, performance coatings, installation of vortex generators, and noise reduction products and installation of leading edge protection tape.
The company is also looking for partners in the turbine manufacturing, O&M, and drone inspection sectors who can benefit by using Robowind, and to host field trials on onshore and offshore megawatt-scale wind turbines worldwide.
Robowind also is developing a Vortex Generator (VG) product in collaboration with the CSULB Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. Wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics modeling of the product found that “the estimated increase in AEP using the VG technology is 3% to 5% at zero pitch and up to 7% at an 8-degree pitch.
These test results will be confirmed in field trials on megawatt scale wind turbines within the next 45 days.
Robotic blade maintenance changes the economics of installing retrofits that in the past may not have made financial sense due to the high cost of rope or aerial lift access. This is significant for offshore facilities where turbine blade maintenance and performance enhancement work is typically dangerous and costly.
Unfortunately, physical access to wind-turbine blades that are offshore or hundreds of feet above the ground currently requires human technicians to access the blades via ropes or high lift aerial cranes. Work is slow, dangerous, and can only be completed when there are optimal weather conditions. As a result, completing maintenance or improvements on large wind farms can take several years before every turbine has been serviced. Labor and blade access represent more than 80% of the costs for both blade maintenance and performance enhancement.