According to 3M and Rope Partner, the purpose of the year long study is to quantify the reduction in overall wind turbine output due to leading edge erosion. This data-driven study will reportedly be the first published work to put verifiable numbers behind this widespread issue for wind turbine blades.
As wind turbine blades rotate, reaching speeds of 180 miles per hour at the blade tips, they are constantly exposed to the elements and harsh outdoor conditions. Any airborne object, such as sand, rain, and hail, can lead to damage on the leading edge of the blade. This erosion negatively affects aerodynamics by causing turbulence that may reduce the overall turbine output.
"Over the last decade at sites all across the globe, we've seen firsthand the damage caused by leading edge erosion when conducting our inspections for wind turbine maintenance and repairs," said Chris Bley, director of business development at 3M. "We've seen sites where significant erosion occurs in a little as two years after installation. Our customers are concerned about the effects this erosion will have on the performance of their turbines, and we are committed to finding answers for them through this important study."
3M aims to target the issue of leading edge blade erosion with its polyurethane tape technology.