Seamus Cummins, an NCPST PhD student, has recently featured on RTE’s Brainstorm to discuss his cutting-edge research on the cleaning of wind turbine blades using lasers. When turbine blades become fouled with contaminants, it significantly impacts their aerodynamic performance, leading to reduced efficiency and lower energy output. In response, the Laser Clean team at NCPST is developing an innovative, chemical-free cleaning method using laser ablation.
Funded jointly by the SEAI and ESB, the Laser Clean project (PI: John Costello) aims to create a prototype laser ablation system that can precisely target contaminants on the surface of wind turbine blades. By using focused laser beams to irradiate the contaminants, unwanted dirt can be removed while leaving the turbine blade material untouched.
Spectral analysis is being used to identify and quantify the elements present in the contamination, and machine learning algorithms can classify the difference between a clean and contaminated blade with exceptional accuracy, enabling rapid scanning of the surface with minimal damage. The “stand-off system” will be ground-operated and use a mounted telescope to collect light, providing a mobile, hands-free cleaning solution operated by on-site engineers.
This research is critical as Ireland transitions towards sustainable technologies, and every effort must be made to enhance their effectiveness and lifespan. By increasing the efficiency and lifespan of wind turbines, this research will lead to improved energy production that is both economically and environmentally sustainable. Seamus Cummins’ research could have a significant impact on the future of renewable energy, especially as contaminants can decrease wind turbine efficiency by up to 40% after just two weeks of operation.
See the full article here: https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2023/0306/1360456-wind-turbine-blades-maintenance-cleaning-lasers/
Laser Clean project: https://laserclean.ie/