Keeping an eye on windmills

Dec. 14, 2006
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratory have developed a network that gathers information on how windmills are performing.

Edited by Stephen J. Mraz

It will let windmill designers compare performance data and develop better follow-on turbines and blades. The system, dubbed Accurate Time and Linked data Acquisition System (Atlas II), samples many signals at once to characterize the inflow, operational state, and structural response of a wind turbine. It is housed in an environmentally protected aluminum box and has lightning protection on all channels. It also uses off-the-shelf components when possible and operates continuously.

In a trial with GE Energy, researchers placed four Atlas II units on a 1.5-MW, 245-ft-tall windmill. They collected 67 readings, including 12 measuring inflow, eight for the operational state of the turbine, and 24 characterizing the structural response. The system worked 24/7, and a GPS time stamp on all data maintained synchronization. All data — 17,000 records containing 285 Gbytes — were compressed and stored on a single computer.

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