Structural Health Monitoring for offshore wind turbine components and ships

Wednesday, 31 May, 2017 - 12:00
Study project of the Interreg-Programme RELIABLES Offshore is the research platform FINO 3 in the North Sea. (Photo: Kiel University of Applied Sciences)
Study project of the Interreg-Programme RELIABLES Offshore is the research platform FINO 3 in the North Sea. (Photo: Kiel University of Applied Sciences)

On June 9, 2017 the kick-off event for the Interreg-Programme RELIABLES Offshore takes place at the Kiel University of Applied Sciences. The project partners are developing a Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) that shall allow a reliable prediction of a components’ service life.

In the future, operators of wind turbine generators and ship owners might save a lot of money needed for maintenance and spare parts. Until now they replaced those components on the basis of suspicion or at the end of their expected service life. Within the Interreg-Programme RELIABLES Offshore the Kiel University of Applied Sciences (FHK), the Syddansk Universitet (SDU), and the Forschungs- und Entwicklungszentrum Fachhochschule Kiel GmbH (Research and Development Centre University of Applied Sciences Kiel GmbH) are developing a Structural Health Monitoring (SHM). Based on the actual stresses and strains on the system SHM shall allow a reliable prediction of a components’ service life. SHM can thus help to improve safety, environmental sustainability, and cost efficiency of dynamically stressed constructions like turbine generators or ships.

Within the scope of this project the project partners build a test centre for fatigue strength in Kiel. The aim is to apply the latest scientific findings, modern measurement methods for vibration analysis, experimental fatigue tests, and numeric calculations in order to support regional companies in solving practical problems. SDU contributes its competencies in vibration analysis; Kiel University of Applied Sciences contributes its expertise in fatigue strength. Both institutions of higher education offer assistance in the field of calculations of stresses and strains with the so-called Finite-Element-Method (FEM).

Study project is the research platform FINO 3. It is located in the North Sea about 70 kilometres off Sylt and is operated by the R&D centre Kiel University of Applied Sciences.

Calculate the perfect time to replace critical components

Currently, fatigue strength calculations of dynamically stressed constructions are being performed and finally assessed during the design phase. During the running operation inspections, repairs, and from time to time exchanges of single components are made at regular intervals. This maintenance is not based on calculations regarding the remaining service life of a system or its components.

Especially hard to judge are systems and components where long-term experience is lacking due to innovative design, e.g. floating offshore wind turbines (OWT) and special ships, or due to their area of operation e.g., OWT, accommodation or converter platforms in increasing water depths. Accordingly, problems may arise. For example, the failure of an OWT because of delayed repair options due to bad weather conditions may lead to a total breakdown of the entire plant for months.

Structural Health Monitoring helps to evaluate the operational material fatigue of installations. Based on those data, a prognosis of the remaining service life can be provided which is not based on statistical design models but on real loads. SHM does not only allow to calculate the perfect time to replace critical components but additionally to contribute prognoses regarding safety, possible environmental hazards, and cost efficiency for further operation of existing plants.

Representatives of companies and associations support the project RELIABLES Offshore and regularly exchange knowledge with the project partners. In doing so, companies and institutions in the programme region get the chance to voice their wishes and requirements regarding a Structural Health Monitoring. The duration of the project RELIABLES Offshore is three years.

Kiel University of Applied Sciences / Silke Funke

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