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Development of a Wind Turbine Blade Surface Coating to Reduce Damage due to Lightning

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0018885
Agency Tracking Number: 247310
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 14b
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001976
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2019
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2019-08-19
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-08-18
Small Business Information
42 Ladd Street, Suite 106, East Greenwich, RI, 02818-4361
DUNS: 080145129
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 John Cooney
 (612) 819-1214
Business Contact
 Neal Fine
Phone: (401) 595-7379
Research Institution
Every year, the global wind industry loses an estimated $100M or more to damage caused by lightning.A new blade coating will reduce the damage to wind turbine blades caused by lightning by promoting the formation of ionization channels over the surface of the turbine blades, providing a safe external path for lightning energy to reach ground and preventing damaging blade punctures.The coating consists of discrete conductive elements embedded in a non-conducting substrate and mixed with a topcoat, which will be applied to the blade surface near the tips to enhance the performance of the lightning protection system.In Phase I, we performed computational simulations to identify appropriate electrical properties for the coating system.We completed a systematic series of experiments that showed that an inexpensive coating system can reduce the flashover voltage by more than 50% on the surface of a turbine blade.This is a requirement for the formation of safe airborne paths for the lightning energy to reach ground and the primary metric of success in Phase I.Successful proof-of-principle experiments at larger scales were performed in a state-of-the-art, lightning test facility.In the proposed Phase II project, we will develop a prototype coating system based on the materials identified in Phase I.The coating system will be integrated with industry-standard topcoat materials to provide for simple application to wind turbine blades.The prototype coating will be put through rigorous high voltage, high-current, and environmental testing in preparation for subsequent field tests.Improved wind turbine lightning protection systems will reduce the cost of wind energy by reducing O&M expenses and minimizing turbine downtime, project risk, and costly insurance claims.These steps will increase wind energy’s competitiveness with traditional fuel sources nationwide, even without federal subsidies, widen adoption nationwide, and increase the nation’s energy security and stability.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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