Armour Edge lifespan could top 50 years - report

April 7, 2022

A new type of leading-edge protection could outlast the wind turbines on which it is installed – with a predicted lifespan of more than 50 years, weather conditions dependent.

The Armour Edge samples lasted an average 232 hours – significantly longer than other leading-edge protection systems (LEPs) tested previously at Blyth.

ORE Catapult then modelled how long the system could  survive in real world-conditions, using an existing methodology to the industry standard DNVGL RP 0573 but incorporating offshore rain data from their NOAH met mast located 3km from the shore at Blyth.

The model predicted the Armour Edge leading edge protection would last 53.4 years – far longer than the expected lifespan of an operational wind turbine.

The report also states that Armour Edge degraded much more evenly than other forms of leading-edge protection, resulting in significantly less loss of aerodynamic performance through the lifetime of the product.

Commenting on the report, Edge Solutions Managing Director David Urch said:

“Leading-edge erosion is a major issue for the onshore and offshore wind industry – where reduced aerodynamic efficiency and the requirement for periodic maintenance and downtime can significantly impact windfarm profitability.

“This report suggests a wind farm operator will only need to apply Armour Edge once.

“In addition, its mode of failure is unique in comparison to any other leading-edge protection tested, meaning it should retain its aerodynamic properties throughout most of its life.

“We believe widespread adoption of this product can transform the economics of operational windfarms.”

Each Armour Edge shield is up to one metre long and is manufactured using a customised version of INEOS Styrolution’s highly durable Luran® SC material.

The shields are custom formed to the exact blade type and then bonded into place by trained technicians.

ORE Catapult compared the Armour Edge product against a range of typical leading edge protection systems, including tapes, coatings and softshell, using rain erosion standardised tests, conducted at 1000 rpm and 55 l/hr, equivalent to a rainfall intensity of 26.5mm/hr and droplets of around 2.4 mm – similar to what might be experienced in a thunderstorm. Blade speeds at the tip, centre and root were 125m/s, 105 m/s and 85 m/s respectively.

In the accelerated tests, Armour Edge lasted an average 232 hours versus other solutions which lasted on average between ten and 160 hours.

ORE Catapult then applied a lifetime prediction methodology based on the theoretical Springer model (which was developed by George Springer in the 1980s) to industry standard DNVGL RP 0573 but with ORE Catapult offshore rain data to reach conclusions on the real-world durability of Armour Edge.

The Springer model has been adopted widely and has been adapted and used by the wind industry within a DNVGL joint industry project known as ‘COBRA’.

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