A new test rig, designed to simulate the erosion caused by the impact of water droplets on a wind turbine blade during operation, is being installed at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.
The rig was purchased with funds from InnovateUK and supplied by R&D Test Systems A/S. It will enhance the Catapult’s extensive blade testing capabilities and research activities, enabling the technology innovation centre to provide deep engineering and technical analysis and interpretation of test results for customers and research programmes. This will lead to a better understanding of the impact that rain erosion can have on materials, repair applications and methodologies.
Better understanding the fundamental physics of erosion, and how it can be mitigated, will lead to greater efficiency and reduced costs, as well as assist in the development of protective coatings and materials.
The rig arrived on site this week, and ORE Catapult is now working on a commissioning and rig performance analysis programme with a view to having the new test facility available from July 2017.
Stephen Robertson, Head of Business Development at ORE Catapult, said: “The addition of a rain erosion test rig to our already extensive blade testing capabilities further reinforces ORE Catapult’s position as a world-leading expert in wind turbine blade testing.
“The procurement of the new rig was in direct response to a clear market need for this type of independent, open-access testing: it will allow turbine and blade manufacturers and the supply chain to investigate and mitigate the effects of rain erosion on turbine blades, and to trial new types of materials and protective coatings.”