Condition monitoring Wind energy Micro Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) accelerometers Vibration and modal analysis Wind turbine blade Energy harvesting Energy management Wireless communication Piezoelectric sensors
Significant advances in wind turbine technology have increased the need for maintenance through condition monitoring. Indeed condition monitoring techniques exist and are deployed on wind turbines across Europe and America but are limited in scope. The sensors and monitoring devices used can be very expensive to deploy, further increasing costs within the wind industry. The work outlined in this thesis primarily investigates potential low-cost alternatives in the laboratory environment using vibration-based and modal testing techniques that could be used to monitor the condition of wind turbine blades. The main contributions of this thesis are: (1) the review of vibration-based condition monitoring for changing natural frequency identification; (2) the application of low-cost piezoelectric sounders with proof mass for sensing and measuring vibrations which provide information on structural health; (3) the application of low-cost miniature Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) accelerometers for detecting and measuring defects in micro wind turbine blades in laboratory experiments; (4) development of an in-service calibration technique for arbitrarily positioned MEMS accelerometers on a medium-sized wind turbine blade. This allowed for easier aligning of coordinate systems and setting the accelerometer calibration values using samples taken over a period of time; (5) laboratory validation of low-cost modal analysis techniques on a medium-sized wind turbine blade; (6) mimicked ice-loading and laboratory measurement of vibration characteristics using MEMS accelerometers on a real wind turbine blade and (7) conceptualisation and systems design of a novel embedded monitoring system that can be installed at manufacture, is self-powered, has signal processing capability and can operate remotely.
By applying the conclusions of this work, which demonstrates that low-cost consumer electronics specifically MEMS accelerometers can measure the vibration characteristics of wind turbine blades, the implementation and deployment of these devices can contribute towards reducing the rising costs of condition monitoring within the wind industry.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.