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Electromagnetic energy harvester for monitoring wind turbine blades



The long composite blades on large wind turbines experience tremendous stresses while in operation. There is an interest in implementing structural health monitoring (SHM) systems inside wind turbine blades to alert maintenance teams of damage before serious component failure occurs. This paper proposes using an energy harvesting device inside the blade of a horizontal axis wind turbine to power a SHM system. The harvester is a linear induction energy harvester placed radially along the length of the blade. The rotation of the blade causes a magnet to slide along a tube as the blade axis changes relative to the direction of gravity. The magnet induces a voltage in a coil around the tube, and this voltage powers the SHM system. This paper begins by discussing motivation for this project. Next, a harvester model is developed, which encompasses the mechanics of the magnet, the interaction between the magnet and the coil, and the current in the electrical circuit. A free fall test verifies the electromechanical coupling model, and a rotating test examines the power output of a prototype harvester. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.