Leading-edge erosion: Materials solutions

Depending on operating conditions, erosion of rotor blade leading edges can affect wind turbine energy generation efficiency as soon as two years after installation.

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Depending on operating conditions, erosion of rotor blade leading edges can affect wind turbine energy generation efficiency as soon as two years after installation. This too-early onset of erosion has prompted blade manufacturers to address the issue in the design stage, says Gerry Bender, business development manager, Wind Energy Services (WES, Gainesville, Texas). “There are numerous solutions being tried and evaluated in the field,” he notes, “including more durable coatings and tapes.”

For example, 3M (St. Paul, Minn.) is partnering with blade maintenance firm Rope Partner Inc. (Santa Cruz, Calif.) to conduct a year-long, in-field study of leading-edge blade damage.
“We’ve applied 3M protective tape, and we’re currently gathering power curve data compared to adjacent turbines with severe leading-edge erosion,” explains Rope Partner’s blade services manager, Josh Crayton. 3M Wind Protection Tape (WPT) is designed to mitigate the output losses from leading-edge erosion. WPT is made of transparent, abrasion-resistant and UV-resistant polyurethane elastomer.

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