Catapults
CASE STUDY

Offshore Demonstration Blade (ODB) Project: Leading Edge Erosion Solutions

Published 13 June 2018
May 2018 Protecting against the erosion of the leading edge of an offshore wind turbine blade is a major area of research and innovation for the offshore wind industry. With offshore wind farms designed and built for a 25-year operational life span, ensuring that the wind turbine blades operate at maximum energy generating capacity for the life of an offshore wind turbine, often in harsh environmental conditions, is of paramount importance to keeping costs down and energy production up. With the market for cutting-edge technological solutions to leading edge protection estimated to be worth around £120m annually over the next 10 years for UK businesses, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult is now working to support leading offshore wind supply chain companies and equipment manufacturers to further develop and commercialise new products and services in blade leading edge protection.

The Catapult’s engineering expertise, as well as our world-leading test facilities, are supporting the development of an innovative metallic alloy leading edge protection system by Sheffield specialist aerospace component manufacturer Doncasters Bramah. The protection system is one of seven novel technologies under development as part of the EU Demowind-funded Offshore Demonstration Blade project, led by the Catapult and focused on the research, development and demonstration of wind turbine blade innovations. Inspired by aerospace technology used in helicopter rotor blades, the metal alloy has extremely good erosion protection properties and acts as an erosion barrier. The metal is designed as an in-factory solution, applied to the blade through a process called electroforming. A copy of the blade geometry is used, and the alloy is ‘grown’ around the blade form.