>>So this project was an initiative of LANL
in conjunction with the Clinic Program here at Harvey Mudd. It started two years ago, so 2010–2011 school year. That team started off the project and kicked it off. and we’ve been working from where they left off.>>We’re doing this for Los Alamos National Labs. It’s part of their Intelligent Wind Turbine Project. So the previous team before us had already developed a numerical model.
We were originally thinking that we would simply build on that and refine it a little
bit based on experimental data.
So now what we’re doing is we’re using their model to check that our experimental data is accurate. We are expecting a change in frequency response
for the blades when they are damaged. So what we want to do right now is just
show what they look like under normal non-damaged conditions.
That way, later LANL can examine and observe the turbine and see if, indeed, the blades
are damaged, or if they are acting normally.
The data on the tower was accelerometer data so when we’d impact it with a hammer
it would vibrate. The same thing with the piezo-electric sensors, it appeared like an accelerometer. The purpose was to excite the tower
and all the frequencies that it would respond, so by hitting it we could see in which frequencies
it responds normally. That way we can determine its properties and characteristics.>>If the blade is damaged, then it is going to oscillate at some sort of other frequency,
so if you can compare some sort of real time monitoring of the frequencies of oscillation with an expected value, then you can write some sort of code that will light up a light and say
“Hey, this isn’t performing as expected, maybe we should look into this.”
So that’s what we’re looking at now.>>LANL hopes to use this information to
simulate damage to the turbine and then show what frequencies are the worst
damage, as in you need to replace this blade now,
you need to fix these cracks, that sort of things. We are working on applying our data that we’ve acquired in the field
to our 3D model and currently it’s starting to show some vibration, which is
very exciting.>>The end goal of their sort of investigation is to reduce the downtime of wind turbines due to maintenance issues.
If they have to shut down the wind turbine and perform some sort of fix because the turbine is damaged. It’s obviously not pumping out power while they’re performing maintenance.
If you can reduce that time then you are increasing total power output on a whole.
So the way they want to go about doing this is by identifying the damaged blades
before they lead to some sort of catastrophic failure, or anything like that. Then they can perform the small-scale maintenance instead of the extremely large-scale, time-intensive, cost-intensive maintenance that nobody
wants to perform or pay for. So that’s the motivation for the project.
>>No one’s really done what we’ve done before so it’s totally new territory. LANL is just really excited to see what we’ve come up with, and everyone’s just really excited because it’s so new. I really love working with renewable projects so last year I worked on NREL’s team with solar energy so I think that gets really exciting when people are working on new, up-and-coming technologies
that people can see directly affecting our economy as a country.
I think it’s really helpful, and useful, and cool.