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Keywords:

  • smart structures;
  • load alleviation;
  • morphing structures;
  • shape adaptation

ABSTRACT

With increasing size of wind turbines, new approaches to load control are required to reduce the stresses in blades. Experimental and numerical studies in the fields of helicopter and wind turbine blade research have shown the potential of shape morphing in reducing blade loads. However, because of the large size of modern wind turbine blades, more similarities can be found with wing morphing research than with helicopter blades. Morphing technologies are currently receiving significant interest from the wind turbine community because of their potential high aerodynamic efficiency, simple construction and low weight. However, for actuator forces to be kept low, a compliant structure is needed. This is in apparent contradiction to the requirement for the blade to be load carrying and stiff. This highlights the key challenge for morphing structures in replacing the stiff and strong design of current blades with more compliant structures. Although not comprehensive, this review gives a concise list of the most relevant concepts for morphing structures and materials that achieve compliant shape adaptation for wind turbine blades.Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.