Monitoring fatigue delamination growth in a wind turbine blade using passive thermography and acoustic emission

Seyed Sina Samareh-Mousavi, Xiao Chen*, Malcolm McGugan, Sergei Semenov, Peter Berring, Kim Branner, Niels Ludwig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Damage monitoring is an essential step to understand fatigue damage growth in composite wind turbine blades and for reliable lifetime prediction. The current study is an experimental investigation of fatigue delamination induced by an intentionally embedded defect in the spar cap of a 31 m wind turbine blade. A constant cyclic flap-wise bending was applied to the blade for 320,000 cycles. Delamination growth is identified and measured by visual inspection, acoustic emission (AE), and infrared thermography of the blade surface. It was observed that the area of delaminated regions grew faster during the early cycles, then their growth rates decreased, and the interlayer cracks reached stable growth. The experiment shows fatigue delamination develops gradually in the spar cap and allows monitoring of the damage before reaching a critical stage. The ability of AE and thermography methods to detect subsurface damage is demonstrated by the identification of steady delamination growth during cyclic load. Damage localization by both methods is in good agreement with the delamination location. Most acoustic activities are spotted in the boundaries of delaminated regions, and the position of a significant number of acoustic activities with the highest energy content correlates with the location of delamination crack fronts. It is shown that the surface temperature distribution contour indicates the shape of the largest delaminated region, and the growth of the hot region area correlates with damage propagation. However, multiple delaminations through the thickness cannot be discriminated from the thermal images.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStructural Health Monitoring
Number of pages16
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Wind turbine blade
  • Fatigue
  • Delamination
  • Thermography
  • Acoustic emission


Dive into the research topics of 'Monitoring fatigue delamination growth in a wind turbine blade using passive thermography and acoustic emission'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this