How Sensors Can Prevent Wind Turbine Downtime

How Sensors Can Prevent Wind Turbine Downtime

The demand for renewable energy is only increasing as new technology solutions emerge such as electric cars on the streets and solar panels on rooftops. Clean energy is powering the future and wind is a key source of power for many communities.

The Need for Preventative Maintenance

Wind turbines have been popping up on land and sea in order to heed the demand for clean energy, but how can we ensure these massive structures live a long, healthy life? Engineers must add precision components to their designs that will provide preventative maintenance capabilities and prevent wind turbine downtime. Adding these additional components may increase costs upfront, but the costs of repair and downtime due to malfunction can be far more damaging.

How to Avoid Malfunction & Prevent Wind Turbine Downtime

Accelerometers can be implemented into the turbine to monitor the frequency content of the rotary bearings. They can record the vibration profile of the bearing when it is new and then monitor this profile as a function of time to detect changes in the vibration signature. When there is an inconsistency in the vibration profile, the accelerometer will notice this and relay the readings to a vibrational spectrum analyzer. This analyzer is what alerts engineers when something is wrong.

Which Accelerometer Type Can Monitor Turbines?

Since the blades of a turbine move relatively slowly, this creates low-level vibration of a few hundred hertz. Because of this level of vibration, a piezo accelerometer will not necessarily be needed. With a bandwidth up to 400 Hz, MEMS accelerometers are suitable solutions for measuring the frequency of these rotors. MEMS accelerometers are lower cost than most traditional inertial sensors so they can be purchased in bulk if needed.

Don’t Let the Turbine Tilt

Another preventative maintenance solution is tilt monitoring. Due to erratic weather patterns, climate or even shifting sediment, the base of the turbine will also need some attention to ensure its stability over the course of its lifetime. The turbine base can be equipped with precise and rugged inclinometers such as the JDI-100/200, LCF-2330, LSOX, or LCF-300.

If you’re looking for a tilt or motion solution with tight requirements, contact us, and we will build a sensor solution specific to your project.

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