A multi-frequency fatigue testing method for wind turbine rotor blades

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article – Annual report year: 2017Researchpeer-review

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Rotor blades are among the most delicate components of modern wind turbines. Reliability is a crucial aspect, since blades shall ideally remain free of failure under ultra-high cycle loading conditions throughout their designated lifetime of 20–25 years. Full-scale blade tests are the most accurate means to experimentally simulate damage evolution under operating conditions, and are therefore used to demonstrate that a blade type fulfils the reliability requirements to an acceptable degree of confidence. The state-of-the-art testing method for rotor blades in industry is based on resonance excitation where typically a rotating mass excites the blade close to its first natural frequency. During operation the blade response due to external forcing is governed by a weighted combination of its eigenmodes. Current test methodologies which only utilise the lowest eigenfrequency induce a fictitious damage where additional tuning masses are required to recover the desired damage distribution. Even with the commonly adopted amplitude upscaling technique fatigue tests remain a time-consuming and costly endeavour. The application of tuning masses increases the complexity of the problem by lowering the natural frequency of the blade and therefore increasing the testing time. The novel method presented in this paper aims at shortening the duration of the state-of-the-art fatigue testing method by simultaneously exciting the blade with a combination of two or more eigenfrequencies. Taking advantage of the different shapes of the excited eigenmodes, the actual spatial damage distribution can be more realistically simulated in the tests by tuning the excitation force amplitudes rather than adding tuning masses. This implies that in portions of the blade the lowest mode is governing the damage whereas in others higher modes contribute more significantly due to their higher cycle count. A numerical feasibility study based on a publicly available large utility rotor blade is used to demonstrate the ability of the proposed approach to outperform the state-of-the-art testing method without compromising fatigue test requirements. It will be shown that the novel method shortens the testing time and renders the damage evolution with a higher degree of fidelity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sound and Vibration
Pages (from-to)123-140
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2017
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • Wind turbine rotor blade, Fatigue testing, Fatigue damage, Resonance testing, Multi-frequency approach, Exciter

ID: 127594325