Marine corrosion deteriorates the supporting structures of offshore wind turbines and poses considerable challenges. The cost of repairing the corrosion protection system can significantly exceed the initial cost of installing such a system.
WaterEye: the project for corrosion prevention
In response to this problem, the WaterEye project emerged in 2019, within the framework of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program of the European Union, with funding of 4.7 million euros. After three years of hard work, the project, led by the Navarrese technology center Ceit, successfully reached its conclusion in 2023.
The Ceit technology center led this three-year project with the participation of the companies Cobra (Spain), Semantic Web Company (Austria) and Delft Dynamics (The Netherlands), as well as the research and development centers Flanders Make (Belgium) and Sintef (Norway), the Canary Islands Ocean Platform (Plocan) and the Technical University of Delft (Netherlands).
Ceit reported that the main objective of the WaterEye project has been “to reduce the operation and maintenance costs of offshore wind turbines, contributing to improving the operation of offshore wind farms through remote monitoring of their structural health.” For this purpose, “a novel real-time corrosion monitoring system” has been proposed.
Ainhoa Cortés, Ceit researcher expressed: “The system that has been developed is based on ultrasound and seeks to continuously monitor the steel structure from inside the offshore tower, where sensor nodes are deployed that measure the thickness of the structure and thus its loss in thickness due to the phenomenon. of corrosion”.
This technology consists of fixed sensors and a mobile sensor node, which is based on a drone. Developed by the company Delft Dynamics , this mobile solution allows the ultrasonic detection device to be transported to specific points within the wind turbine tower to carry out measurements.
The drone, which cannot use GPS inside the tower, moves using information from a tracking camera and other positioning sensors , reaching critical points of the structure where it performs automatic thickness measurements thanks to the ultrasonic sensors developed. by Ceit.
In the process of developing the solution, Flanders Make was in charge of designing the 3D interface to visualize the state of the structure based on sensor measurements, as well as installing a model of the wind turbine tower to create a relevant environment for measurements. On the other hand, the Canary Islands Ocean Platform played a crucial role in organizing the validation and final integration of the WaterEye project in its facilities, which have an open sea test bench where the technology can be tested in real conditions.
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