How Sensors Can Prevent Wind Turbine Disasters

How Sensors Can Prevent Wind Turbine Disasters

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. 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 & Downtime

Accelerometers can be implemented into the turbine to monitor 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 that will alert engineers that something is amiss.

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. These sensors are also lower cost than most traditional inertial sensors which makes them affordable to buy 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 insure 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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