Altitec partners with 3M to field-test and install Wind Vortex Generators

Global blade access, repair and inspection specialist, Altitec, has been appointed official installation partner by the Renewable Energy Division at 3M, a global innovation company, to install its 3MTM Wind Vortex Generators. 3M Vortex Generators address aerodynamic issues common to most turbine blades and, in doing so, can increase a turbine’s annual energy production by between 2 and 3 percent.

Rotor blades typically twist no more than 10-20° from root to tip, and while chord length – the width of the blade at a given distance along its length – can vary, these factors prevent wind turbines from achieving optimal aerodynamic performance. This can often lead to undesired airflow separation – known as aerodynamic stall – and has a significant impact on wind turbine efficiency, as well as generating additional noise.

In response to these issues, 3M in partnership with Smartblade has developed its Wind Vortex Generator, a reliable and quickly installed thermoplastic aerodynamic enhancement. They can be easily attached to the rotor blade, resulting in attached flow to enhance performance by guiding wind flow around its surface.

“In the Vortex Generator, 3M has hit upon an excellent way to address this problem, and we’re looking forward to working with them to roll it out across the world,” commented Tom Dyffort, Managing Director, Altitec Group.

“As one of 3M’s official installation partners, Altitec has completed trial installations at sites in Poland, Spain and Portugal, and hopes to carry out further installations in Chile in the near future.”

Santhosh Chandrabalan, Global Business Manager at 3M said, “Vortex Generators are a financially and technologically economical solution which helps to optimize the aerodynamic efficiency of the blade and improve turbine annual energy production. We are delighted to have partnered with Altitec, whose specialist knowledge and experience in the field allows this product solution to be widely implemented.”

Vortex Generators have undergone extensive testing and analysis in order to ensure negligible increases in load and deflection when they are installed. Indeed, it has instead been shown that by reducing stall, they help optimise a turbine’s load characteristics, and reduce noise. Altitec, in partnership with 3M and Smartblade, statistically analyses each turbine to ensure the Vortex Generators are positioned to maximise the annual energy production yield of the turbine.

In addition to their durability and easy application, Vortex Generators can also be adapted to fit almost any blade type, regardless of a turbine’s manufacturer. They not only reduce flow separation, and increase turbine energy yields, they also reduce stall induced loads and help extend service life.