Heating coils on wind blades

Ice accumulation on offshore wind turbine blades can result in a loss of up to 50% of annual energy production.[1] Ice build up compromises blade aerodynamics and leads to an imbalance among the blades, stressing the turbine and thereby reducing the lifespan of the system.[1,2] Deicing is dangerous and time consuming, currently undertaken manually or by helicopter.[2,3]

New turbine blades are built with integrated electric foil heating systems which detect, turn on, and melt ice.[4,5] For existing windmills, blades are taken onshore where heating systems are integrated in controlled environments to protect the lamination.[6] Current heating coils are 500 micrometers thick and do not influence the aerodynamics of the blade.[7]

Printing 2D heating coil circuits directly onto the erected wind turbine blades will require only a short pause in operation while they are imprinted, reducing downtime costs compared to current practice. Challenges remain to fit the printing technology to purpose and account for the rough conditions at sea.

When will it become accepted practice that heating circuits are printed onto wind turbine blades?

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[1] Davis, N. (2014), Icing Impacts on Wind Energy Production. DTU Wind Energy
[2] Gidinceanu, C. (2019) Thesis Aalborg University.
[3] Bladecleaning (2017), Limpieza de Palas
[4] Battisi, L., Fedrizzi, R., Brighenti, A. & Laakso, A. (2006), Sea Ice and Icing Risk for Offshore Wind Turbines
[5] Froese, M. (2017), Cracking the icing problem on turbine blades
[6] WICETEC (2020), How to prevent Wind Turbine Icing? - The WIPS Technology
[7] Nanowerk (2016), Miniature 3D-printed high-perforance heaters
More Information:
NorthSEE (2017), Offshore renewable energy developments - Offshore Wind
European Wind Energy Conference (2010), The Impact of Ice Formation on Wind Turbine Performance and Aerodynamics

By Matthew J. Spaniol