3M and Rope Partner Launch In-Field Study on the Effects of Wind Turbine Blade Erosion

The purpose of the yearlong study is to quantify the reduction in overall wind turbine output due to leading edge erosion. This data-driven study will be the first published work to put verifiable numbers behind this widespread issue for wind turbine blades.

As wind turbine blades rotate, reaching speeds of 180 miles per hour at the blade tips, they are constantly exposed to the elements and harsh outdoor conditions. Any airborne object, such as sand, rain, and hail, can lead to damage on the leading edge of the blade. This erosion negatively affects aerodynamics by causing turbulence that may reduce the overall turbine output.

“3M has been addressing the needs of the wind power industry for more than 10 years. Our deep expertise and history with polyurethane tape technology has proven effective in tough environments. Similar polyurethane tape technology from 3M is also used in the aerospace industry to protect the leading edge of helicopter blades and aircraft radomes against erosion,” said Pam Kellenberger, Global Business Manager for the 3M Wind Energy business.

“Our best-in-class Wind Blade Protection Tapes can mitigate the output losses from leading edge erosion, and we are pleased to be on the forefront of quantifying and addressing such a widespread challenge for wind turbines.”

"Over the last decade at sites all across the globe, we’ve seen firsthand the damage caused by leading edge erosion when conducting our inspections for wind turbine maintenance and repairs," said Chris Bley, Director of Business Development. "We’ve seen sites where significant erosion occurs in a little as two years after installation. Our customers are concerned about the effects this erosion will have on the performance of their turbines, and we are committed to finding answers for them through this important study."

A recognized leader in research and development, 3M produces thousands of innovative products for dozens of diverse markets. 3M’s core strength is applying its more than 40 distinct technology platforms – often in combination – to a wide array of customer needs. With $23 billion in sales, 3M employs 75,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 65 countries. Visit http://www.3M.com.

Rope Partner is the premier provider of turbine maintenance, repair, and inspection services requiring specialized access approaches. Since 2001 in the US (and 1998 in Europe) our rapid-response, WindCorps™ technicians have partnered with our clients to deliver cost effective, environmentally appropriate solutions; resulting in increased turbine availability and operational longevity.