Airtub ROMI is the sequel to the successful Airtub project. HZ University of Applied Sciences is again involved with the Data Science research group of lector Mischa Beckers and the Engineering program with Edward Mouw and others.

The project revolves around the maintenance of wind turbines in offshore wind farms. The number of offshore wind farms has grown significantly in recent years. As a result, wind turbine maintenance, especially turbine blade inspection and repair, has become a critical activity. There are two major challenges in this area. The first is a lack of knowledge about the condition of wind turbine blades and blade systems; the second is the difficulties in offshore inspection and maintenance work. The latter is becoming an increasing problem due to the lack of technicians. Both issues increase costs and reduce blade performance and service life.

Monitoring and inspection

The search for solutions began in the first Airtub project. Airtub ROMI (Resident Offshore Monitoring and Inspection) focuses on developing automated systems that monitor and inspect wind turbine blades. It builds on the technological advances made in the earlier Airtub project, such as the ultrasonic sensors and drone and crawler platform developed.

In this new, three-year project, the technologies will be enhanced and integrated into a system within offshore wind farms. The ultimate ambition is to refine, test and demonstrate these innovative technologies in offshore conditions and offer them as 'Airtub as a service' to maintenance companies. "The project is a fantastic challenge for data scientists. We have to develop AI solutions in a complex system with many data pre-processing and data fusion challenges, facing offshore conditions," said HZ lector Mischa Beckers.

Intended results

  • Sensor-in-blade monitoring systems: Systems to detect, track and prioritize damage in real time. Major damage is thus identified before it leads to failures.
  • Drone and crawler platform: This platform, equipped with sensors, has a maximum take-off mass of less than 25 pounds. It will have a base station that can be installed on offshore wind turbines. The platform focuses on inspecting the structural health of blades, including inspections after lightning strikes. The platform is designed to operate within the wind farm without an on-site crew.
  • Inspections: Inspections are a combination of ultrasonic and visual methods to ensure comprehensive assessments of turbine blade condition.
  • Data communication: The system provides seamless data communication within the wind farm and with the turbine operator.
  • Digital Twin Technology: Digital twin technology helps assess information from inspections to determine the severity of any damage. This enables timely repairs.

Besides HZ, participants include the World Class Maintenance foundation, Vattenfall Duurzame Energie, Eneco Wind, Terra Inspectioneering, TU Delft, InHolland, TNO and the Royal National Aerospace Center foundation.

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