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Photonics research project targets wind turbine efficiency

01 Jun 2023

Royal Academy of Engineering grant to fund Aston's development of method to optically monitor blades.

A photonics researcher at Aston University, Birmingham, UK, is working to make the production of wind power cheaper. Associate professor Dr Sergey Sergeyev has received a grant of £100,000 from the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering to find a cost-effective method of monitoring the condition of wind turbine blades.

By 2030 wind energy is expected to provide 30% of Europe’s power. The huge turbines operate in harsh environments, which increases their maintenance costs, with almost a third of a wind farm’s total cost being spent on maintenance. In his research, Dr Sergeyev is to explore methods of monitoring wind turbine blades’ shape to check their working condition.

Currently there is no technique to reveal how existing damage to a blade started and progressed, which makes it difficult to work out how the damage was caused and its severity. Dr Sergeyev will be working with sensor technology company Insensys.

He is planning to develop a technique based on analysing the fundamental property of light, polarisation, and combines fibre optics, laser physics, nonlinear science and signal processing disciplines.

Testbed approach

Dr Sergeyev is based at Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) within the University’s College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, and is experienced in polarisation phenomena, fibre optic sensors, and laser physics. He said his research will be cost-effective as it will involve exploring test beds based on simple specimens of materials similar to actual blades.

He commented, “I’m delighted to have received this grant to explore methods for improving the efficiency of such an important source of green energy. The condition monitoring of wind turbine blades includes damage detection, localisation, classification and evaluation.

“My project is primarily based on fibre optic sensors – fiber Bragg grating sensors – which have high sensitivity to distortions, such as stretch, twist and bend, which change the shape of the composite material. To explore such property we will advance our recently developed polarimetric technique to detect the structural defects.”

The Royal Academy of Engineering granted the award as an industrial fellowship and the research is expected to last two years. Aston’s AIPT is one of the largest photonics research centers in the UK, with a current portfolio of 65 research and industrial projects amounting to £30million and offers a variety of postgraduate courses.

CHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.LASEROPTIK GmbHOptikos Corporation ECOPTIKIridian Spectral TechnologiesBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationMad City Labs, Inc.
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