UpWind Solutions, Inc., the wind industry’s most comprehensive operations and maintenance (O&M) independent service provider, along with SMART BLADE®, wind industry aerodynamic experts, announced they have partnered with 3M™ to deliver the best-in-class Vortex Generators (VGs) for wind turbine rotor blades. The expertise of the three organizations created a new VG solution that is aerodynamically tested to provide the highest possible increase in AEP, with proven durability, and a standardized installation process that reduces costs and downtime.
The VG has been accepted as a cost effective upgrade to improve the cross flow on wind turbine blades. While they are not a new solution, VGs were lacking in durability, adhesive properties, product life, repeatable installation process, and proven performance improvement. UpWind Solutions, SMART BLADE®, and 3M™ analyzed the existing technology and created a new VG solution that can make a major impact on the performance of wind turbines. Initial tests that have been running since November 2012 show an AEP increase by 2-3%. On one test site, the increase in AEP translated into a one year return on investment per turbine.
UpWind Solutions, as a leader in O&M and rope access services, worked with SMART BLADE® and 3M™ to develop procedures that resulted in a safe, efficient, and repeatable installation process with an average one day turnaround process per turbine. The resulting VG solution has customized installation lines for each blade type, repeatable templates to increase speed and accuracy, 3M™ adhesive tape that is quick and easy to apply, and high safety standards utilizing cost effective rope access teams. The VG solution requires minimal downtime and offers wind asset owners the safest installation process available.
“UpWind has a proven partnership model where we work with leading companies and experts in specific fields to develop the highest performing solutions we can for our customers. We are very happy that this strategy has brought us together with SMART BLADE® and 3M™ to improve upon VG technology. The results so far are impressive and we believe this is a significant offering for wind farm owners who are trying to improve the performance of their assets.” Peter Wells, CEO, UpWind Solutions.
SMART BLADE® is a leading engineering research company based in Germany that ran tests in the large wind tunnel facility of TU Berlin to develop VGs designed for each specific turbine blade type. Through extensive testing, they determined the optimal design and placement of the VGs in order to improve the performance of the blades by energizing the flow around its surface and reducing flow separation. The performance of the entire turbine in terms of power, loads and service life are therefore being improved by means of sophisticated VG installation. With the proper placement of Vortex Generators a significant lift increase and stall delay is achieved with minimal drag penalty.
“We are very excited about the new partnership with 3M as we know it will be a valuable asset to our existing partnership with UpWind Solutions. This new strategic partnership is undoubtedly a key milestone that optimizes our Vortex Generator technology to the advantage of the customers.” Ulrich Lang, Managing Director, Smart Blade GmbH.
3M™ brings years of experience with plastics and adhesives to the partnership. They have created possibly the most durable product on the market, as the lifetime of the VGs remains unchallenged. Knowing that reliability is crucial to achieve a long-term profitable investment, 3M™ selected highly durable thermoplastic to make the VG for superior weathering resistance and acrylic adhesives for long term holding power. Extensive testing of the 3M™ Acrylic Foam Tapes demonstrates about 100% bond strength retention after 5 years of outdoor aging in the extreme and varying climates of Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida.
“By working together with two top-class experts in wind energy we can now deliver more efficient and more reliable aerodynamic solutions and make wind power even more competitive,” says Christian Claus, Global Business Manager Wind Energy at 3M.