Design strategies for rotorcraft blades and HALE aircraft wings applied to damage tolerant wind turbine blade design
Richards, Phillip W.
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Offshore wind power production is an attractive clean energy option, but the difficulty of access can lead to expensive and rare opportunities for maintenance. Smart loads management (controls) are investigated for their potential to increase the fatigue life of damaged offshore wind turbine rotor blades. This study will consider two commonly encountered damage types for wind turbine blades, the trailing edge disbond (bond line failure) and shear web disbond, and show how 3D finite element modeling can be used to quantify the effect of operations and control strategies designed to extend the fatigue life of damaged blades. Modern wind turbine blades are advanced composite structures, and blade optimization problems can be complex with many structural design variables and a wide variety of aeroelastic design requirements. The multi-level design method is an aeroelastic structural design technique for beam-like structures in which the general design problem is divided into a 1D beam optimization and a 2D section optimization. As a demonstration of aeroelastic design, the multi-level design method is demonstrated for the internal structural design of a modern composite rotor blade. Aeroelastic design involves optimization of system geometry features as well as internal features, and this is demonstrated in the design of a flying wing aircraft. Control methods such as feedback control also have the capability alleviate aeroelastic design requirements and this is also demonstrated in the flying wing aircraft example. In the case of damaged wind turbine blades, load mitigation control strategies have the potential to mitigate the effects of damage, and allow partial operation to avoid shutdown. The load mitigation strategies will be demonstrated for a representative state-of-the-art wind turbine (126m rotor diameter). An economic incentive will be provided for the proposed operations strategies, in terms of weighing the cost and risk of implementation against the benefits of increased revenue due to operation of damaged turbines. The industry trend in wind turbine design is moving towards very large blades, causing the basic design criterion to change as aeroelastic effects become more important. An ongoing 100 m blade (205 m rotor diameter) design effort intends to investigate these design challenges. As a part of that effort, this thesis will investigate damage tolerant design strategies to ensure next-generation blades are more reliable.