An update into recent trials within the wind energy sector
This post is an update on the progress that we are making in dry ice blasting the machinery inside the huge windmills that seem to be popping up just about everywhere!
Love them or hate them, wind energy is here to stay with a planned increase in the amount of wind farm developments across the UK.
A massive problem that the industry faces is how to clean the internal mechanics efficiently. The gears and the rota brakes, the high speed shafts the generator and most importantly the cooling fan, all need regular cleaning. All of these components have lubricants administered which, over a period, collect dust and external airborne particles. These mixed with lubricant will affect the performance of the workings. Conventional cleaning involves dismantling each part and cleaning by hand. Until now that is.
Dry ice blasting can clean the mechanics, without any dismantling. Everything remains in situation. This is because Dry ice blasting is:
- safe to use over electrical components – the inert, dry properties of dry ice mean we can safely pass over electric hardware without fear of damage
- Non-abrasive- the nature of the process means we won’t damage the internal workings of the machinery.
- Free from secondary waste exposure – the blast media we use is a frozen gas, meaning there is zero waste from our process. We create no dust or mess.
You can start to get a picture as to why dry ice blasting is well suited to cleaning in the wind energy sector. In our previous blog we talked about the massive savings on offer to wind energy companies, which you can read here. But it’s not just the savings in downtime which are important. Proper maintenance schedules of the internal machinery results in a prolonged working life. Increasing machinery work life equates to huge long term savings, not only in replacement part but also in output.
So far we have only run trials on multi-megawatt turbines which have internal service lifts and work platforms. Our next challenge is to run an internal clean down from an external truck mounted platform…90m in the air!
I hope all of my crews have a head for heights
By Ian Reynolds