Erosion issues in tidal turbine blades

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2023
Thesis identifier
  • T16766
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 201853645
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • The erosion of materials used in tidal turbine blades is a significant problem, as it can compromise the blade's structural integrity and efficiency over time. The present study aimed to investigate the erosion mechanism in composite and coating materials and the influence of seawater immersion on their mechanical properties. Scanning electron microscope and optical microscope were used to analyse the effect of various parameters such as impact velocity, impingement angle, erosion particle size, and fibre orientation on the character of erosion in the blade‚Äôs material. The investigation revealed that the erosion mechanism in GFRP was the result of the fibre matrix being eroded away, leading to a cracked surface composite, removal of the fibres, and exposure of the matrix. Moreover, seawater immersion significantly reduced the overall strength of the materials by de-bonding the glass fibres in the composite matrix. However, the GFRP material's tensile and flexural strengths could be regained by the desorption process. To address the problem of erosion in tidal turbine blades, a gradient-toughened composite with varying proportions of standard and toughened powders was developed using an inventive powder-epoxy fabrication method. The study showed that the gradient-toughened plates outperformed the standard plates in general, with a more ductile response to erosion and a more constant erosion performance across the range of impingement angles examined. The study also highlighted the importance of using erosion maps to visualise and analyse the level of material loss experienced by coatings under different impact conditions. The erosion map produced in the study provided valuable insights into the behaviour of the coating and can be used to optimise the design of the tidal turbine blades for increased durability and longevity. Overall, the study's results and conclusions provide valuable insights into the erosion mechanism in UD-GFRP and coating materials and the impact of seawater environment on their mechanical properties. The findings could be useful for the development of more durable and reliable blades that can withstand the harsh marine environment.
Advisor / supervisor
  • Stack, M. M. (Margaret M.)
Resource Type