Fatigue testing for tidal turbine blades involves the application of cyclic loads without matching the blade's natural frequency, which is challenging due to their high stiffness and associated thermal issues of composite materials at those frequencies (typically around 18Hz cycles). An auxiliary system is required to load the blades to address this challenge. However, traditional hydraulic systems tend to be highly energy-demanding and inefficient.
To solve this problem, researchers utilized real on-site data to define a series of equivalent target loads and implemented them in FastBlade, which proved an efficient way to perform fatigue testing. They used a regenerative digital displacement hydraulic pump system and achieved a remarkable 75% energy savings compared to a standard hydraulic system. During the testing, they utilized a system of 3 actuators instead of the traditional single actuator system, which produced more realistic and complex loads. We also address such changes in temperature along large composite structures during the test and mechanisms to address these issues.
Throughout the test, a series of measurements were taken on the blade response and FastBlade itself, which revealed exciting results on the mechanical behaviour of the blade and best testing practices for FastBlade. Impressively, the blade withstood 40 years' worth of accelerated fatigue loading without catastrophic failure.