Researchers Focus on Manufacturing Wind Turbine Blades

Published on 10 Mar, 2014

  • About 1,500 patent publications have been filed each year for the past 5 years. China, US and Europe are preferred geographies for patent protection
  • Research focus has been on method of manufacturing wind turbine blades
  • Research has been consistently expanding due to global factors such as alternative energy sources, high demand for power, and the need to develop high-performance wind mills

Since the past five years, about 1,500 patent publications have been filed each year. Interestingly, research has been constant and increasing. The chart below depicts the filing trend for the last five years.

Wind Turbine Blades Patent Filing Trend

Researchers primarily focus on the method of manufacturing wind turbine blades, with more emphasis on composite and light-weight materials. General Electric, Vestas, Mitsubishi and Siemens top the list in this scenario, with approximately 100 to 400 patents filed in the last five years.

Wind Tubine Blades Patent filed

Specifically, the research of the top assignees focuses on addressing problems as given below:

  • Ice formation on blades: Cold climate increases ice formation on the surface of wind turbines, thus affecting its performance. Anti-icing or de-icing techniques have been developed to address this issue. Furthermore, blade heating technologies have also come up to ensure de-icing the turbine blade.
  • Noise: Wind turbine blades produce aerodynamic audible noise when the boundary layer interacts with the trailing edge. As a solution to this problem, various noise reduction techniques are developed including installation of noise reducers, control of tip speed, change in aerodynamic profile shape, etc.
  • Manufacturing difficulties: Companies are improving the manufacturing process of blades by using composite and light-weight materials. This would ensure precision in designing the complex curvature shapes of blades and take care of maintaining the weight and length of the wind turbine.

In terms of preferred geographies for patent protection, China, US, and Europe are the key markets. China has been leading the research space with approximately 4,683 inventions. A graph showing the distribution is depicted below:

Origin of Invention Wind Turbine blades

In light of the above information, it appears that research on wind turbine blades is expanding. The increase can be attributed to global factors such as alternative energy sources, high demand for power, and the need to develop high-performance wind mills.

About Wind Turbine Blades

About Wind Turbine Blades

Wind turbine blades are shaped like an airfoil and work on the principles of aerodynamics to capture wind energy effectively. In an airfoil, one surface of the blade is round, while the other is flat. When wind blows, air flows around the blade; thus, blades get subjected to aerodynamic forces that cause its rotation. Wind turbine blades experience two aerodynamic forces: lift and drag

  • Lift: The force acting perpendicular to the blade’s upper surface. It is directly proportional to wind flow.
  • Drag: The force acting parallel to wind flow and perpendicular to the lift.

Wind turbine blades are built with wood, metal, and fiber glass. Composite and light-weight materials are used for modern wind turbine blades to create quick acceleration. Recent researches on wind turbine blades focus on materials, structural dynamics, active flow aerodynamic control, and manufacturing process