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Spanish tech to balance wind turbine joints set to cut costs

University of the Basque researcher’s invention predicts loads for wind turbine bolts to reduce maintenance work for industry

The pioneer model is set to reduce costs in construction and maintenance for wind turbines

A pioneer model for balancing the bolting load of wind turbines has been developed in Spain. The first simulation model that predicts loads for turbine bolts is expected to cut construction and mainteanance work and costs for the wind industry.

Spanish researcher Mikel Abasolo invented the model as part of his thesis at the University of the Basque Country in Spain. The project uses input characteristics of a wind tower and its parts to generate the appropriate load for each bolt on a turbine.

According to Abasolo, this has great advantages in the construction and maintenance process because it reduces time as well as costs spent on overadjusting.

Abasolo said: “The aim is that all the bolts should have the same load so that they all work equally. But in practice, achieving this uniformity is no easy task. In an adjustment sequence, when you tighten one bolt, the previous ones lose part of their load.”

Common practise for large wind installations is to adjust the bolts over and over again to balance the load, which leads to a loss of time and money.

Abasolo’s model requires input data such as the tube geometry, the exterior and interior diameter, the metrics and resistance of the bolts or the final load that wants to be achieved.

It works on the priciple of calculated predictions between the data and required final effect. Abasolo said a similar approach with the technology has been used in the pipes industry.

“The load that has to be assigned to each bolt will be greater than what one wants to obtain at the end, because it is lost in the sequence,” he said.

“Similar things have been done for pressure pipes, but there was nothing with respect to wind turbine joints. So we have taken advantage of a methodology never used before in this area.”