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What about current de-icing technology used for wind turbines?

  1. Apr 10, 2013 #1
    I saw those giant wind turbines stopped working in winter, since winter has most wind in four seasons. so, what good comes out of that? while at least 1/4 of time in a year that the wind turbines don't generate power. and wind turbines are so expensive with limited life time around 20 years.

    Are there any good methods de-icing or icing-preventing technology under development?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2013 #2


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    The only practical method that I can think of is to tap some of the generated output and feed it back into electric heating elements inside the blades.
    Anything else would be too difficult or too wasteful to bother with. You can't just spray them down with glycol (simplification of formulae) as you would an aeroplane.
  4. Apr 10, 2013 #3


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    Seems like a pretty easy solution, wonder if it is done or why it isn't.

    If not - dibs! I'm stealing it and patenting it. Sorry Danger. :biggrin:
  5. Apr 10, 2013 #4
    I think they did have heating elements inside the blades, the only problem is after a year a two, those heating elements are broken, and unable to fix it from the ground.
  6. Apr 10, 2013 #5
    Hi, russ, if you could fix this, you can be very rich. since wind turbines under winter climate is a global problem, only a few companies had this kind of experiences in this particular field. from what I know, they're not really working that good. there're documents on IEAwind websites available for downloading.


  7. Apr 11, 2013 #6


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    I can't think of why they'd be broken. Wearing of the slip rings (or brushes, or whatever they use) is to be expected, but things in the hub are routinely repaired by mechanics with no fear of heights so it shouldn't be a major issue. There wouldn't be any stress (other than the thermal variety) on the actual heating elements.

    Russ, go for it. Just send me a card if you get rich.

    We have a couple of world-class wind farms here in Canada, and not the most tropical weather. Icing can't be too large an issue, or they wouldn't have been built.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  8. Apr 11, 2013 #7


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    A Google search for “wind turbine blade deicing” brings a plethora of mechanisms: commercially available, patents for same, and even experimental methods. Just two examples:


    Water Drops on Leaves Inspire Wind Turbine Coatings That De-Ice Themselves
    biomimicry inspires experimental superhydrophobic coatings for wind turbine blades.

  9. Apr 12, 2013 #8
    with slip rings or brushes, it requires muiltiple channel to send power to each blade, the technology is not a problem, it's the life-time is short compared the wind turbe. since you can't just climb there then fix or replace the equipment mounted inside the blade.
  10. Apr 12, 2013 #9
    There are products commercially available, and they have been trying to fix this already for a very long time. and there are people still trying. A lot of people were coming up with a lot of totally different ideas.

    The major problem is those products's life-time are shorter than the turbine blade itself.
  11. Apr 12, 2013 #10


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    I don't see why multiple channels would be required. One moveable set of contacts could easily feed through the inner section of the hub/pod joint and then be split off into the 3 separate circuits required for the individual blades. No "slippage" is required to compensate for the blade pitch adjustments.

    Almost everything is shorter-lived than the blades. The hub bearings and even the generators have to be replaced on a fairly regular basis. People just climb up and do it.
  12. Apr 12, 2013 #11
    It requires multiple channels for 380V power(4 channels), if you want to add ground control units into the blade,then it requires more. transfering temp&control signals into power channels needs a network adapter. and that make things more vulnerable.

    yeah, that's why they're still asking around new methods and ideas to solve this problem.

  13. Apr 13, 2013 #12


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    Wind power systems are still in their infancy technically, judging by the poor service life of the hardware.
    It is rare to see even half the turbines in a wind farm running. Given that the power these installations produce is generously subsidized, that means the substantial maintenance effort can only keep a modest fraction of the installation operational. A turbine with a 5 year guaranteed uptime would sweep the market, imho, but does not exist. Jet engines by contrast routinely operate for a decade or longer between overhauls.
  14. Apr 13, 2013 #13


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    And they can produce energy in more than one way at once. The turbine can be geared to a mechanical dynamo, and then the exhaust blasted through a magnetohydrodynamic generator (although that might require the addition of impurities to the fuel). For sustainability, they run happily on biodiesel.
  15. Apr 13, 2013 #14
    The maintenance of the wind turbine is too hard and expensive. they needed a crane to do all the job each time.

    There are a lot of people are still in this field,

    But the fact is,There's no money in the Wind. at least for now.
  16. Apr 13, 2013 #15


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    "No money in the Wind"? That cannot be true. See the following reports from the USA and world-wide wind generating electric power installations. It is clearly economically viable, and certainly growing.

    “Nevertheless, the wind energy industry is booming. Globally, generation more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2006. At the end of last year, global capacity was more than 70,000 megawatts. In the energy-hungry United States, a single megawatt is enough electricity to power about 250 homes. Germany has the most installed wind energy capacity, followed by Spain, the United States, India, and Denmark. Development is also fast growing in France and China.
    Industry experts predict that if this pace of growth continues, by 2050 the answer to one third of the world's electricity needs will be found blowing in the wind.”

    “The American wind industry had its best year ever in 2012, with more than 13,000 megawatts (MW) installed. In the fourth quarter alone, more than 8,000 MW were deployed – an all-time record for the industry and twice as much wind as the previous record set in the fourth quarter 2009.
    Thanks to this growth, the wind industry was able to achieve another milestone in 2012: achieving 60 gigawatts (GW) of cumulative wind capacity in the United States. To put it another way, the United States today has more than 45,000 wind turbines that provide enough electricity to power 14.7 million homes – roughly equivalent to the number of homes in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio combined.”

    This database is updated as of April, 2013:
    “The Wind Power is a worldwide database about wind turbines and wind farms. It contains data related to wind farms, turbines, manufacturers, developers and operators.”
  17. Apr 14, 2013 #16


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    A better way to look at it is the percentage of the total power generated.

    For the USA in 2012, wind generated 140 TW-h out of a total of 4054, or 3.5%

    If none of the US wind generation capacity was operating, the electricity grid as a whole probably wouldn't even notice.

  18. Apr 14, 2013 #17
    Okay, it sounds like from the positive point of view wind power is still growing. On the other hand wind turbine manufacturers are experiencing a knockout match while wind power plants are having a hard time making money with cranes.
  19. Apr 14, 2013 #18


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    Also, do some research on marginal pricing of energy, and negative marginal prices.

    Because of the short term variability of the output from wind energy, at some times the wind farms have to pay money to put their energy onto the grid, to compensate for the additional cost of reducing the base load output from nuclear or large fossil fuel plants.

    That may be another reason why so many turbines are not working.
  20. Apr 14, 2013 #19


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    As always, unfortunately, everything comes down to economics. Every watt contributed helps the world in general, but it won't happen unless it's financially viable.
    I'm wondering how the vertical wind turbine scene is progressing. They seemed more efficient than the horizontal ones the last time that I read about them. (I don't trust the net enough to bother looking it up.)
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