R&D monitoring campaigns

In general: OWI-lab offers monitoring hardware and analysis services for offshore measurement campaign. Our data-acquisition systems and dedicated sensors allow identifying those parameters that are crucial to:

  •          a) Minimize construction and installation costs
  •          b) Extend the lifetime of offshore structures
  •          c) Reduce operation and maintenance costs

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Turn-key test and monitoring services for design validation


OWI-Lab invested in a 'multi-purpose monitoring system' to support dedicated R&D projects in the field (field measurements). The system can be used to monitor certain parameters on existing offshore windturbines for a long time periode, but the system can also be used to measure relative short events during testing.

OWI-Lab accomodates this monitoring infrastructure to companies and knowledge centra to support R&D projects. The system itself can be operated remotely if implemented in a turbine, and stores data on a server installed onshore. 

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OWI-Lab focusses on three applications in the field of measurement and monitoring campaigns.     

1. Structural Health Monitoring (SHM):

Structural health monitoring involves damage detection and characterization of engineering structures (offshore foundations and structures in this case) through the observation of the system over time using sampled dynamic response measurements from an array of sensors. Damage in this context can be a change in material and/or geometric properties of the structural system (i.e. damage to scour protection, damage to structure connectivity).  

A lot of design parameters are very difficult to predict by numerical tools and therefore performing dedicated tests on existing offshore structures is vital to verify the existing design assumptions. To increase power generation and to limit weight, offshore wind turbines are becoming structurally more flexible, thus an accurate prediction of their dynamic behavior is mandatory. Underestimating the stiffness and the damping of offshore structures in the design phase for example, inevitable results in the use of more steel and thus higher constructions and installation costs. Underestimating the dynamic loads or the corrosion rates on the other hand can result in reduced lifetime of the offshore structures and increased maintenance costs.

Our multi-purpose monitoring system contains hardware and software to support structural vibration measurements in the field of SHM. Next to the data-acquisition OWI-Lab invested in accelerometers (MEMS) to support low frequency vibration measurements (range 0-1000Hz). Together with VUB (OWI partner: Vrije Universiteit Brussel) we are perfoming a long-term structural health monitoring campaign on the foundation and tower of an offshore wind turbine.    

2. Machine Condition Monitoring (MCM):

Another critical subsystems in with regard to maintenance is the drive train consisting of a gearbox and/or generator. An optimal approach is the use of a prediction based maintenance strategy. This implies that components are replaced before failure occurs but not earlier than absolutely needed. The main challenge in this approach is assessing in addition to the current condition of each specific wind turbine also the remaining lifetime. This means that not only occurring failure is detected but also not yet initiated failure is accounted for. This requires the availability of the time series of forces, accelerations,... actually occurred during the life time of the drive train, since loading is site dependent.

Next to 'structural health monitoring', our systems can also support condition monitoring tasks on wind turbine machinery (i.e. drivetrain components). Different parameters can be monitored over long time periods (acceleration, strain, temperature, pressure,...). The system can be used to generate component datasets for R&D purpose, and can be used to validate predictive maintenance algorithms by implementing them into the FPGA (field-programmable gate array) controller.  

3. Dedicated turn-key measurement campaigns on demand:

The purchased monitoring hardware and software can also be used for dedicated R&D measurements in the field. A first reference and example of such a measurement campaign is the determination of the damping value of a monopile structure for NorthWind NV (3th offshore wind farm in Belgium). The OWI-Lab monitoring systems and sensors were used to determine the damping value of an existing wind turbine structure. Post-processing of the captured data was done by VUB through specialised modal analysis techniques. More information about this case can be found here.

Also dedicated measurements on drivetrain components have been yet supported for R&D projects.  

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