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Research Papers: Alternative Energy Sources

Self-Healing of Wind Turbine Blades Using Microscale Vascular Vessels

[+] Author and Article Information
Arun Kumar Koralagundi Matt

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
115 E. Reindl Way,
Glendale, WI 53212
e-mail: koralag2@uwm.edu

Saman Beyhaghi

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
115 E. Reindl Way,
Glendale, WI 53212
e-mail: beyhagh2@uwm.edu

Ryoichi S. Amano

Life Fellow ASME
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
115 E. Reindl Way,
Glendale, WI 53212
e-mail: amano@uwm.edu

Jie Guo

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
115 E. Reindl Way,
Glendale, WI 53212
e-mail: jieguo@uwm.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received November 12, 2016; final manuscript received February 20, 2017; published online March 16, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Bengt Sunden.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 139(5), 051208 (Mar 16, 2017) (7 pages) Paper No: JERT-16-1456; doi: 10.1115/1.4036052 History: Received November 12, 2016; Revised February 20, 2017

Development of high bending stresses due to a sudden gust of wind is a significant cause for the failure of wind turbine blades. Self-healing provides a fool proof safety measure against catastrophic failure by healing the damages autonomously, as they originate. In this study, biomimetic, vascular channel type of self-healing was implemented in glass fiber reinforced polymer matrix composite that is used in wind turbine blades. Microscale borosilicate tubes are used to supply the healing agent to the epoxy type of thermoset polymer matrix, and the healing was very effective. However, 25% decrease in tensile strength and 9% decrease in three-point bending flexural strength were imminent with the inclusion of a single layer of vascular vessels in the composite material. Three-point bending tests were performed before and after self-healing of flat specimens to find the extent of recovery of flexural strength on using vascular channel type of self-healing. An average recovery of flexural strength of 84.52% was obtained using a single layer of vascular vessels on the tensile stress side of three-point bending. Breakage and bleeding of the healing agent within the composite specimens during three-point bending tests were observed in real-time. Based on the encouraging findings, the above self-healing feature was successfully implemented in a prototype wind turbine.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic of the composite structure showing variation in placement of the tubes, which are used as samples 3, 4, and5

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Fig. 2

Photograph of the composite self-healing blade in the prototype wind turbine showing tubes in the central region of the blade (lengthwise). The portion containing tubes is illuminated by UV light.

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Fig. 3

Transverse cross-sectional image of the composite structure showing one of the embedded hollow tubes: (a) shows resin-rich region on either side of the tube along with voids and (b) magnified image showing good bonding between tube and resin; dimensions of the tube remain unchanged after being subjected to vacuum infusion process

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Fig. 4

Average maximum tensile strength of samples with and without tubes in the composite structure in megapascals. The number at the bottom of the bars shows the number of specimens tested and SD is the standard deviation.

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Fig. 5

Average maximum flexural stress of samples with and without tubes in the composite structure in megapascals. The number at the bottom of the bars shows the number of specimens tested and SD is the standard deviation.

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Fig. 6

Plot showing maximum flexural stress of undamaged and healed specimens S3B1 and S3B2 from sample 3 having tubes as a central layer of the composite structure. Darker lines represent their average values.

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Fig. 7

Plot showing maximum flexural stress of undamaged and healed specimens S4B1, S4B2, S4B3, and S4B4 from sample 4 having tubes as the penultimate layer. Darker lines represent their average values.

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Fig. 8

Plot showing maximum flexural stress of undamaged and healed specimens S5B1, S5B2, S5B3, S5B4, and S5B5 from sample 5 having tubes as the last layer. Darker lines represent their average values.

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Fig. 9

Real-time photographs during three-point bending test of an undamaged, self-healing specimen from sample 5. Camera perspective is showing the tensile stress side of the specimen. The specimen is illuminated under UV light. (a) Initial photograph at the start of the test, (b) photograph within the first minute into the test showing depletion of healing agent from the tubes, and (c) photograph in the last minute of the test showing cracks that are filled by the healing agent.

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Fig. 10

Real-time photographs during three-point bending test of an undamaged, self-healing specimen from sample 5. Camera perspective is showing the tensile stress side of the specimen. The specimen is illuminated under UV light. (a) Initial photograph at the start of the test, (b) photograph within the first minute into the test showing bleeding and penetration of healing agent through the thickness of the specimen, and (c) photograph in the last minute of the test showing bleeding, penetration and spreading up of healing agent through the entire thickness of the specimen with simultaneous exhaustion of healing agent from the tube.

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Fig. 11

Photograph of prototype wind turbine from inside the test section of a wind tunnel. The self-healing turbine blade is weighed down by weights to produce eccentricity and higher forces on the self-healing blade.

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Fig. 12

Photograph of a portion of self-healing turbine blade containing tubes illuminated by UV light, before and after wind tunnel test: (a) shows photograph before the test and (b) shows photograph after the test revealing depletion of the healing agent from one of the tubes

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