Nav: Home

Sandia-developed device determines how well wind turbines operate

July 26, 2006

Albuquerque, N.M. -- In West Texas, New Mexico, and other places around the world, wind turbines are used to generate electricity. But how can engineers determine their efficiency and health?

Sandia's Wind Energy Technology Department has developed a device, the Accurate Time Linked data Acquisition System (ATLAS II), which answers that question and can provide all of the information necessary to understand how well a machine is performing.

Housed in an environmentally protected aluminum box, ATLAS II is capable of sampling a large number of signals at once to characterize the inflow, the operational state, and the structural response of a wind turbine.

The ATLAS II has several key attributes that make it particularly attractive for wind turbine deployment. It is small, highly reliable, can operate continuously, uses off-the-shelf components, and has lightning protection on all channels.

"The system provides us with sufficient data to help us understand how our turbine blade designs perform in real-world conditions, allowing us to improve on the original design and our design codes," says Jose Zayas, the project lead, who has been working on ATLAS II since its inception in 1999.

Last year the ATLAS II team completed a project with GE Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to monitor the performance of a GE wind turbine in a Great Plains site about 30 miles south of Lamar, Colo., and will soon start monitoring a new work-for-others (WFO) project with Texas Tech University.

The GE Energy/NREL/Sandia collaboration involved testing a 1.5-megawatt, 80-meter-tall turbine with a rotor diameter of 70.6 meters. GE Energy is the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the US and sells them to developers -- such as Florida Power & Light -- all over the world. Wind plant operators sell the electricity to utilities such as the Public Service Company of New Mexico.

The GE turbine was equipped with four ATLAS II units, collecting a total of 67 measurements, including 12 to characterize the inflow, eight to characterize the operational state of the turbine, and 24 to characterize the structural response.

The system collected data continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The four units were placed at various locations on the turbine, and a GPS time stamp was used to maintain synchronization between the units. All data streams from the different units were merged into a single data stream at the base of the turbine where the ATLAS II software compressed the data and stored them onto a local computer.

Data collection efforts began Sept. 14, 2004, and ended Jan. 19, 2005. During that time, more than 17,000 data records were collected, for a total of 285 Gb of data.

Because the turbine was located at a remote site, the data was transmitted to NREL via a satellite link and later transmitted to Sandia. In places where there is access to the Internet, the data can be monitored in real time.

The Texas Tech project will start in August with an environmental monitoring box being placed on a 200-meter meteorological tower at a test site near the campus in Lubbock. The university is expected to eventually erect a utility-size wind turbine. The ATLAS II will be used to collect data from the machine.

Sandia also is planning three experiments, using the ATLAS II to monitor the performance of three advanced blade designs on a test turbine it operates in conjunction with the US Department of Agriculture's research station in Bushland, Tex.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.
-end-
Sandia National Laboratories A Department of Energy National Laboratory Managed and Operated by Sandia Corporation.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

Release and images are available at http://www.sandia.gov/news/resources/releases/2006/wind.html

Sandia National Laboratories' World Wide Web home page is located at http://www.sandia.gov. Sandia news releases, news tips, science photo gallery, and periodicals can be found at the News Center button.

DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

Related Wind Turbines Articles:

Designing lightweight glass for efficient cars, wind turbines
A new machine-learning algorithm for exploring lightweight, very stiff glass compositions can help design next-gen materials for more efficient vehicles and wind turbines.
Quadrupling turbines, US can meet 2030 wind-energy goals
The United States could generate 20% of its electricity from wind within 10 years, without requiring any additional land, according to Cornell University research published in Nature Scientific Reports.
Supporting structures of wind turbines contribute to wind farm blockage effect
Much about the aerodynamic effects of larger wind farms remains poorly understood.
Wind and water
Damaging rains from hurricanes can be more intense after winds begin to subside, say UC Santa Barbara scientists.
Silverswords may be gone with the wind
In a new study in the Ecological Society of America's journal Ecological Monographs, researchers seek to understand recent population declines of Haleakalā silverswords and identify conservation strategies for the future.
Biodiversity and wind energy
The location and operation of wind energy plants are often in direct conflict with the legal protection of endangered species.
Computer models show clear advantages in new types of wind turbines
Researchers from Aarhus University and Durham University have modelled the fluid dynamics of multi-rotor wind turbines via high-resolution numerical simulations.
(Not only) the wind shows the way
When the South African dung beetle rolls its dung ball through the savannah, it must know the way as precisely as possible.
New whistle alerts bats to steer clear of wind turbines
Wind turbines are a critical component in the strategy for energy independence, but these massive structures are also killing bats.
Windier wind farms
You've probably seen them, perhaps on long roadtrips: wind turbines with enormous, hypnotic rolling blades, harnessing the clean power of wind for conversion into electric energy.
More Wind Turbines News and Wind Turbines Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.