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New wind turbine blade technology created

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., May 6 (UPI) -- Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratory scientists say they've developed a technology designed to improve the efficiency of wind turbine blades.

The researchers said the technology uses sensors and computational software to constantly monitor forces exerted on wind turbine blades.

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"The ultimate goal is to feed information from sensors into an active control system that precisely adjusts components to optimize efficiency," said Purdue doctoral student Jonathan White, who is leading the research with Professor Douglas Adams.

They said their system also could help improve wind turbine reliability by providing critical real-time information to the control system to prevent catastrophic wind turbine damage from high winds.

"Wind energy is playing an increasing role in providing electrical power," Adams said. "The United States is now the largest harvester of wind energy in the world. The question is, what can be done to wind turbines to make them more efficient, more cost-effective and more reliable?"

The scientists said the sensors could be instrumental in future turbine blades that have "control surfaces" and simple flaps, such as those on an airplane's wings, to change the aerodynamic characteristics of the blades for better control. Because the flaps would be changed in real time to respond to changing winds, constant sensor data would be critical.

The study was detailed in a paper presented this week in Chicago during the Windpower 2009 Conference and Exhibition.

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