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In-Service Robotic Radiography for Wind Turbine Inspection

Mon, 14 December, 2020

TWI is one of six organisations participating in the INNOVATE UK-funded RADBLAD (In-service X-ray Radiography of Offshore Wind Blades) project, which aims to develop a robotic system to provide in-service X-ray radiography of offshore wind turbine blades.

The second phase of the RADBLAD programme aims to further develop the inspection system, which integrates magnetically adhering climbing robots with an X-ray source and detector, allowing for remotely controlled inspection of wind turbine blades.

There has been significant growth in installed wind power capacity in the last decade, especially in offshore wind power in the UK, with the UK market supplying 9.9% of the UK’s electricity consumption in the last 12 months (Electric Insights, 2020). Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also recently announced UK Government plans for offshore wind to power every home by 2030. This growth in industrial presence will increase the need for preventative maintenance solutions that offer high–quality and efficient inspection of wind turbine blades.

The RADBLAD system will provide this preventative maintenance solution through the early detection of internal defects with its X-ray technology. It will achieve this by using a portable, in-situ robotic solution; reducing costs, and asset downtime. The use of a robotic, through-blade inspection system will significantly improve the understanding of latent defects in each blade. The data can then be used to develop a blade-by-blade defect risk management strategy.

The consortium, consisting of Innvotek, Forth Engineering, London South Bank University, Renewable Advice and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, have been able to continue development of the technology through the current restrictions resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic. With the project nearing its conclusion, the RADBLAD system is scheduled for trials within a representative environment in February 2021 at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.


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