Robotic blade maintenance changes the economics of installing retrofits like vortex generators or shark teeth that in the past may not have made economic sense due to the high cost of rope or aerial lift access. We are developing and testing robotic installation capabilities for a variety of retrofits including multiple brands of vortex generators, coatings, and noise reduction shark teeth.
Paints & Coatings
Robowind’s robot has the ability to apply a variety of paints and coatings that are air or UV light cured. In addition, the robot has the capability to 3D print multiple layers of UV cured paints both to repair erosion damage and to print vortex generators and other performance enhancements.
We designed the robot to be flexible enough to handle any brand or formulation of paints and coatings and will work with customers and paint/coating vendors to validate our robot to use their preferred formulations. For each formulation, we require several gallons of the paint or coating for testing at our facility. Once we complete our testing to determine the optimal robot configuration and settings required to successfully apply the formulation on a static blade, we will work with the
customer and paint/coating vendor to schedule and complete a field trial demonstrating the use of the formulation on an operating turbine.
We are working with nano material property experts at Cal State University Long Beach to develop and test a patented leading edge advanced protection paint that is hydrophobic to prevent catastrophic damage from rain drops and has icophobic properties that delay ice formation. The paint is also conductive to prevent lightening damage. All of these capabilities are being tested and confirmed by lab tests at independent third-party labs using testing methods approved by certification agencies.
3D Printed Vortex Generators
We are also working with California State University, Long Beach to test a new vortex generator product that is 3D printed onto the blade using layers of UV cured paint. The 3D printing process is similar to those used by several UV printer companies to 3D print texture patterns on substrates.
CSULB wind tunnel testing and CFD modeling research found that their vortex generator design offered the potential to increase turbine performance by as much as 5%-7%. We are seeking opportunities to conduct field trial tests on commercial megawatt scale wind turbines to confirm these results.
Pick and Place Installation of Performance Enhancements
We are developing the capability for our robot to install Siemens Dino Tail serrations. This requires four key capabilities:
- Apply the Glue using the Painting System;
- Store Dino Tails in a Cartridge;
- Pick the Dino Tail from the Cartridge using the Gantry and Suction Grips; and
- Place in the Required Location at the Required Angle
Once our ability to pick and place Siemens Dino Tail serrations has been successfully developed and field trial tested, this capability can be modified to successfully install other brands of Vortex Generators and other Performance Enhancements.