Wind turbines are responsible for generating renewable energy utilizing the kinetic energy of wind to rotate blades. They are becoming increasingly popular in many areas, which has resulted in a massive increase in their production. Although they are incredibly effective at harnessing wind power, there are some downsides that must be considered when selecting the appropriate type of turbine. Wind turbines can become damaged over time, which is often a result of corrosion. In order to prevent this from occurring, it is important that the turbine blades are protected as much as possible.
Wind turbines are mainly composed of steel, which is why corrosion becomes such a prominent issue. The use of alloy steels in an environment where there is moisture present means that the turbine’s fasteners will eventually start to corrode. This will then lead to serious damage occurring on the structure of the blades themselves, which can result in extensive financial
There are a number of ways in which this can be achieved. Even with careful maintenance and inspections, however, some turbines will inevitably have issues with their blades at some point. In these cases, replacement is the only option. This being said, additional corrosion protection should be put in place on blades that have been replaced to ensure that they last as long as possible.
How to Reduce Chances of Fasteners Corrosion
In order to reduce corrosion and extend the life of the structure, a number of techniques can be used including pre-treatment with anti-corrosion chemicals, post-treatment using anti-corrosion oil or waxes, hot-dip galvanizing the fasteners, electroplating the fasteners with copper to form a barrier. However, electroplating is largely preferred due to its excellent corrosion resistance capabilities and ability to allow for quick treatment. Treating the surface of the fastener with an anti-corrosion agent before installation is another option that can be applied to reduce corrosion.
Most issues that occur as a result of corrosion are not noticeable until it has already occurred. Fortunately, inspection protocols can be used which allow for inspections to be conducted in order to identify any damage prior to its catastrophic effects. There are a number of different methods by which corrosion can be inspected. These include: using remote sensing, using eddy current testing machines, and magnetic particle inspection or ultrasound testing. Before this type of damage is able to occur, it is important that the material has been tested for its specific application to ensure that it will function as required when in use.
Corrosion is a permanent deterioration of an object caused by oxidation. The process may not be noticed until the item is significantly damaged. As metal interacts with its environment, it undergoes a series of reactions that lead to the metal’s corrosion. It can lead to the malfunction of a turbine and create a risk of accidents. Due to this, wind turbine engineers need a corrosion protection method for the fasteners.
One way to protect fasteners against corrosion is to use galvanization, which can be achieved through electroplating zinc over the steel. Electroplating has been found to produce a more uniform coating compared with other methods like painting or dipping galvanizing in the molten zinc bath.
(Galvanizing: A protective coating of zinc is applied to the metal, which forms a strong galvanic cell that prevents further corrosion)
The most common corrosion protection methods for wind turbine fasteners are heat treatment and chemical treatments.
Heat treatment: Heat treatment involves heating the fasteners in an oven until they reach just below their melting point. This will remove any loose scales on the surface of the metal and then let them cool down naturally.
Chemical treatment: Chemical treatments vary depending on what kind of metal is being used in the bolts, but most involve dipping them in chemicals such as nitric acid or alkaline solutions to clean and remove rust from surfaces.
Corrosion Risks for Offshore Wind Turbine Fasteners:
Offshore wind power is a growing market for renewable energy with the potential to meet the world’s energy needs. Offshore wind turbines are situated at sea and need to be connected to the grid onshore by long cables, which must be connected to rigid structures, such as offshore substations and onshore electric pylons. Fasteners connecting offshore turbine blades and towers can corrode during prolonged exposure to saltwater. The corrosion can cause significant structural damage such as cracking or complete breakage of the blade or tower, leading to loss of revenue and downtime.
There are many ways to prevent corrosion, but galvanizing and conversion coating is some of the most common methods used in industry today. Companies have been using these techniques in the past 50 years, which has helped avoid billions of dollars in damages to assets. Cathodic protection also slows down corrosion by protecting metal from reacting with oxygen or moisture near its surface. Antifoulants are often used for this purpose on boats and ships since they are constantly coming into contact with water.
Corrosion risks can be mitigated by implementing corrosion prevention measures such as galvanizing, conversion coating, cathodic protection, and more.
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