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   xoxoxoBruce  Monday Jun 21 12:04 AM

June 21, 2010: Flaming Fans

Someone emailed me a whole bunch of pictures of burning wind turbines.
At first thought was lightning strikes, but the more I thought about it, I would think they would be built to handle that. After all, they stick way up in the air, out in the open. But snooping around the web, it seems to be the gear box oil, from malfunctioning drivetrains, catching fire.



I didn't find any frequency of failure statistics, but seeing what can happen when they do fail makes me wonder. Is it safe to be plonking these things down in flammable forests and grasslands, out in the middle of nowhere?



lumberjim  Monday Jun 21 12:48 AM




spudcon  Monday Jun 21 01:20 AM

Not to worry, FEMA will clean up the oil spills.



SPUCK  Monday Jun 21 05:48 AM

Awesome! The birds are hitting back!



TheMercenary  Monday Jun 21 06:12 AM

That looks like it is going to be expensive to repair.



dacliff  Monday Jun 21 07:48 AM

LOL! It's funny because they exist to use cleaner energy.



classicman  Monday Jun 21 11:41 AM



I think I posted this before - or someone else did.
At least this one didn't catch fire. Dunno where those blades flew off to though :eek

I read something about them having difficulty with high winds. They have brake systems which overheat or something??? Maybe its the gearboxes to which Bruce is referring.

found this one also . . .




Shawnee123  Monday Jun 21 11:46 AM

I thought this thread was going to be about the audience at a Bette Midler show.



Spexxvet  Monday Jun 21 11:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawnee123 View Post
I thought this thread was going to be about the audience at a Bette Midler show.
Haggis!


Gravdigr  Monday Jun 21 01:52 PM

About a month ago I saw one of these turbines en route to who-knows-where. The things can be huge. The three turbine blades/props stopped at a local truck stop, I went back and waited around for a little while, I thought the hub might be travelling with the props, no such luck.



ToastyOhs  Monday Jun 21 02:42 PM

Safe?! Lets ask the folks on the Gulf Coast right now if they would rather deal with one of these things catching on fire and falling over, or the huge mess they currently have.

Sorry, I apologize for my momentary trip to the soap box.



TheMercenary  Monday Jun 21 02:46 PM

Holy crap Grav! that thing is much bigger than I imagined.



classicman  Monday Jun 21 02:49 PM

lol - No problem.



Shawnee123  Monday Jun 21 03:14 PM

LOL



Sheldonrs  Monday Jun 21 04:02 PM

Ugly turban accidents

The horror!!!



spudcon  Monday Jun 21 06:36 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by classicman View Post


I think I posted this before - or someone else did.
At least this one didn't catch fire. Dunno where those blades flew off to though :eek

I read something about them having difficulty with high winds. They have brake systems which overheat or something??? Maybe its the gearboxes to which Bruce is referring.
The first film looks like it was hit by an artillary shell. The windmills I studied in the eighties had a feathering mechanism that kicked in if the RPMs got too high.


classicman  Monday Jun 21 07:34 PM

Or it could be this ...

Quote:
Chain of events

• Vestas state that service was requested for the turbine, following a malfunction of the brakes (cause: worn brake). At the last routine major checkup it was noticed that the main gear made some noise. It was then recommended to have an endoscopic inspection done and a price quote was forwarded.

• A service team from Vestas arrive Friday morning to check the brakes. The brakes were repaired and checked.

• The braking mechanism is tested eight to ten times from the nacelle [engine house on top of the tower]. Then the turbine is restarted from the bottom of the tower with the intent of putting it back into normal production. At this point, the wind is very strong. The airbrakes at the tip of the blades are used to control the speed of the rotor, prior to attaining operational speed, according to Vestas. That means the tips of the blades are turned out during the start.

• During the start of the turbine, just when it is put back on the grid, noise is heard from the nacelle. The service personnel press the stop button. The turbine’s control system starts a controlled shutdown procedure, but a large crash is then heard (probably the gear that fails). The turbine is shaking strongly and cable assemblies, etc., fall down inside the tower. The rotor stops abruptly for a moment, but then starts turning again. The speed of the rotor is rather low, but it is noted that the turbine no longer can be controlled from the control panel and stopped by the brake on the high-speed axle. The personnel evacuates the tower immediately. Outside, it is observed that the airbrakes at the tip of the blades have broken off.


• The wind is very strong. The turbine continues to gain speed, and attains speed beyond its design limit.

• The service personnel contacts the local police and assist in establishing a safety zone of 400 meters (1300 feet) and warn the neighbors. This continues for 21/2 hours.

• The turbine wrecks. The events are filmed by a neighbor and later shown on the TV2 station. The result is that the blades collapse, the tower is hit and is strongly indented. The nacelle is bent forwards (against wind direction). Pieces of all three blades are thrown a great distance downwind from the tower, almost 180 degrees.

• The nacelle and the upper part of the tower falls to the ground in front of the tower. The generator falls out and rests next to it.

• Large pieces of the blades land 200–300 meters (600–900 ft) away, while small pieces appear to have flown 500 meters (1600 ft). Smaller, lighter pieces are found near a farmhouse, about 700 meters (2200 ft) away, though these may have landed and then been blown further by the wind, as the wind was very strong.

• The lower part of the tower remains standing. An inspection of the gear shows it to be damaged.

• Nobody was hurt.
Link

ETA - Bruce was right , again.


HungLikeJesus  Monday Jun 21 07:53 PM

I think that the turbines in post #7 are both older, and fairly small. A modern wind turbine rotates at 10 to 20 RPM, and those in the videos look like they're going quite a bit faster.

Of course, they're also on fire.



squirell nutkin  Monday Jun 21 09:05 PM

A buddy of mine photographed the construction of the blades. You can stand up inside them when they are laying down.



squirell nutkin  Monday Jun 21 09:06 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by spudcon View Post
The first film looks like it was hit by an artillary shell. The windmills I studied in the eighties had a feathering mechanism that kicked in if the RPMs got too high.
looks like the blade flexed and bashed into the tower.


classicman  Monday Jun 21 09:22 PM

The top right and bottom left turbines are, I think, the same as in post 7 & IIRC the bottom left in post 1 is the same exact turbine.

As for the rest I've no clue how old who made or anything else. From what limited reading I did today, the problem remains the same under abnormally high winds that are sustained for a length of time. The brakes/gearboxes overheat and fail.



squirell nutkin  Monday Jun 21 09:30 PM

probably Chinese made gearboxes...

How frigging hard can it be to make a gearbox that doesn't blow up? I think even GM can do that.



HungLikeJesus  Monday Jun 21 11:24 PM

The gear boxes on the big turbines are like nothing else. I used to work for one of the labs that did fatigue testing on them and they were having a lot of trouble finding test equipment that was stronger than the gear boxes.

Regarding the blades striking the tower, part of the problem is that most of the turbines currently being manufactured are upwind turbines. When the wind blows it flexes the blades toward the tower. Downwind turbines don't have that problem, but they do have what's called "tower shadow." Every time the blades pass behind the tower they enter an area where the wind is blocked by the tower. This causes a cyclic loading on the blades, which contributes to fatigue failure and an increase in noise.



squirell nutkin  Tuesday Jun 22 12:07 AM

So is it that the lubricant failed? Now,another question, rather than trying to apply brakes, why not have the gears disengage when speeds or temps increase too greatly? The blades would go into a free spin until the temp cooled or the wind died down. And they would feather automatically to reduce their speed.

Why wouldn't that work?



xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Jun 22 01:10 AM

They would probably have to make the blades more complex, and heavier, to allow them to overclock like that.



spudcon  Tuesday Jun 22 08:20 AM

I guess fans are more complex than I thought. How did the Dutch handle this stuff for all these years?



xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Jun 22 08:33 AM

There's are small, slow, and steerable. I believe their blades are framework skeletons, which are covered with canvas, like a sail, as needed.



HungLikeJesus  Tuesday Jun 22 08:34 AM

At high enough rotational speeds the blades would self destruct.

Some control systems on smaller machines turn the turbine perpendicular to the wind when wind speeds get too high.



Sun_Sparkz  Tuesday Jun 22 08:43 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gravdigr View Post
About a month ago I saw one of these turbines en route to who-knows-where. The things can be huge. The three turbine blades/props stopped at a local truck stop, I went back and waited around for a little while, I thought the hub might be travelling with the props, no such luck.
Great Capture!
I had no idea they were that big. they dont look that large from down on the ground. i drive past a few occasionally on the way to the airport. will drive a little faster past now.


xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Jun 22 08:46 AM

The tail, like the ones on these 1904 St Louis World's Fair display, keep the blades pointed into the wind, like a weathervane. By folding the tail 90 degrees, it effectively shuts down the fan, either manually or as HLJ mentioned, as an automatic safety.




TheMercenary  Tuesday Jun 22 09:05 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by HungLikeJesus View Post
The gear boxes on the big turbines are like nothing else. I used to work for one of the labs that did fatigue testing on them and they were having a lot of trouble finding test equipment that was stronger than the gear boxes.

Regarding the blades striking the tower, part of the problem is that most of the turbines currently being manufactured are upwind turbines. When the wind blows it flexes the blades toward the tower. Downwind turbines don't have that problem, but they do have what's called "tower shadow." Every time the blades pass behind the tower they enter an area where the wind is blocked by the tower. This causes a cyclic loading on the blades, which contributes to fatigue failure and an increase in noise.
Intersting. A study of the physics in making them work must have been fantastic.


Gravdigr  Tuesday Jun 22 11:16 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMercenary View Post
Holy crap Grav! that thing is much bigger than I imagined.
I'm guessing around 100-120 feet, if ya figger that a regular trailer would be around fifty feet...


BrianR  Thursday Jun 24 08:01 PM

The usual size for a trailer is currently 53 feet end to end and it weighs 16,000 lbs empty.

The cost to replace a windmill is around one million per.

I see these things all the time.



spudcon  Friday Jun 25 07:44 AM

Plus $3.99, shipping and handling.



ZenGum  Friday Jun 25 09:42 AM

I have four in three different internet shopping carts right now.

Should I get shipping insurance?



Lamplighter  Friday Jun 25 10:25 AM

Use a Post Office's priority mail box and you don't have to weigh them.



Pete Zicato  Friday Jun 25 11:03 AM

Given the pictures in the op, this seems a little negligent.





lumberjim  Friday Jun 25 11:26 AM




HungLikeJesus  Friday Jun 25 01:40 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Zicato View Post
Given the pictures in the op, this seems a little negligent.


There's something funny about that picture.


xoxoxoBruce  Friday Jun 25 11:10 PM

Looks like something to warn trucks of the clearance on the signs ahead.



spudcon  Saturday Jun 26 12:05 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by lumberjim View Post
LJ, you found the kind of picture I was going to post!



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