Wind turbine blades can collect ice nearly a foot thick (30 cm) on the three-foot-wide tips of their blades. Did you realize those blades are 3-ft (about one-meter) wide?
Researchers led by Iowa State’s Hui Hu studied wind-turbine icing in the field to learn in real-life terms how and where ice accumulates on rotating blades.
Wind turbine blades spinning through cold, wet conditions can collect ice nearly one-foot thick on the three-foot-wide tips of their blades, the researchers found.
That amount of ice affects blade aerodynamics and disrupts the balance of the entire turbine. Unfortunately, that loss of balance can disrupt energy production by up to 80 percent, the study showed.
Hu wanted to conduct his field research in Iowa, where some 5,100 wind turbines produce more than 40% of the state’s electricity (according to the U.S. Energy Information Association).
However, he was refused access to those turbines (energy companies usually don’t want their turbine performance data to go public), so instead arranged to do his research at a ridgetop windfarm in China.
The researchers used drones to take photos of 50-meter-long (164-ft) turbine blades after exposure to up to 30 hours of icy winter conditions, including freezing rain, freezing drizzle, wet snow, and freezing fog. Did you realize those blades can be 2, 3 even 4 times longer than the typical house?
The photographs showed, “While ice accreted over entire blade spans, more ice was found to accrete on outboard blades with the ice thickness reaching up to 0.3 meters (nearly 1 foot) near the blade tips,” the researchers wrote in a paper published online by the journal Renewable Energy.
Who is Hui Hu?
Hui Hu comes with some impressive credentials. Not only is he Iowa State University’s Martin C. Jischke Professor in Aerospace Engineering, he is also director of the university’s Aircraft Icing Physics and Anti-/De-icing Technology Laboratory.
Hu has been doing laboratory studies of turbine-blade icing for about 10 years, including performing experiments in the unique ISU Icing Research Tunnel.
“But we always have questions about whether what we do in the lab represents what happens in the field,” Hu said. “What happens over the blade surfaces of large, utility-scale wind turbines?”
We all know about one thing that recently happened in the field. Wind power and other energy sources froze and failed in Texas during last month’s winter storm.
If I am correct about our imminent descent into the next little ice age, I fear that our increasing dependence on so-called “renewable energy” must inevitably lead to the death of millions.
Thanks to Bill Sellers and Marcus for this article
“Better plant those wind machines farther south, for the ice build-up will drastically reduce energy output let alone muck up our views!” says Marcus. “Meanwhile, they plan to build wind farms out in the ocean off the north east coast. I guess they didn’t read about what happened in Texas!”
“Battery back up? First they need to produce more energy than needed before they can waste electricity charging expensive batteries that will have to be replaced in 7 to 10 years.”