Robowind, has worked together with Professors Praveen Shankar and Mahdi Yoozbashizadeh from California State University, Long Beach to develop robots and robotic tools for wind turbine blade maintenance including installation of various wind turbine blade performance enhancements and improvements.


Image: Robowind developed robot for wind turbine blades. Photo: Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

Robotic capabilities being developed include inspection, cleaning, sanding, blade repair, painting, performance coatings, installation of vortex generators and noise reduction products and installation of leading edge protection tape. The company is looking for partners in the turbine manufacturing, O&M, and drone inspection sectors who can benefit by using Robowind, and to host field trials on onshore and offshore megawatt scale wind turbines worldwide.

Cost Saving Design

The global wind industry loses over $4 billion per year due to inefficient blades that have been damaged by the effects of dust, rain, snow, ice, and corrosion from salt water and insect acids. Robotic blade maintenance changes the economics of installing retrofits that in the past may not have made financial sense due to the high cost of rope or aerial lift access. This is especially significant for offshore facilities where wind turbine blade maintenance and performance enhancement work is typically dangerous, expensive, and desperately needed. Unfortunately, physical access to wind turbine blades that are offshore or hundreds of feet above the ground currently requires human technicians to access the blades via ropes or high lift aerial cranes. Work is slow, dangerous, and can only be completed when there are optimal weather conditions. As a result, completing maintenance or improvements on large wind farms can take several years before every turbine has been serviced. Labor and blade access represent more than 80% of the costs for both blade maintenance and performance enhancement.

Wind Turbine Performance Enhancement

Robowind also is developing a Vortex Generator (VG) product in collaboration with the CSULB Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. Wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics modeling of the product found that “the estimated increase in AEP using the VG technology is 3% to 5% at zero pitch and up to 7% at 8 degree pitch. These test results will be confirmed in field trials on megawatt scale wind turbines within the next 45 days.

Strong Interest at the 2019 Houston AWEA Windpower Show

Over 115 visitors, including leading turbine manufacturers, O&M providers, and both domestic and international turbine owners and operators, stopped by the Robowind booth at the recent Windpower show to see the robot and an animation of it operating. There was unanimous praise for the capabilities of the working prototype. The comments, feedback and interest from industry participants in the various capabilities of the prototype far exceeded expectations.

Path Forward

Robowind is an early stage technology company that has completed the initial design and beta testing needed to implement their robotic maintenance strategy. The company has also concluded initial research on performance enhancing methodology and materials targeted for the wind turbine blade industry. The company is now moving to their next phase, from prototype to production, with initial field trials in mid-2019.

Source: Company Press Release