Integration of actuators and sensors into composite structures
Ehresman, Jonathan David
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The need for more efficient wind turbine blades is growing in our society. One step in accomplishing this task would be to make wind turbines blades into smart structures. A smart structure is one that incorporates sensors, complete control systems, and active control devices, in order to shed, or redistribute the load placed on the structure. For wind turbine blades this means changing the shape of the blade profile as it encounters different wind conditions. In order to have active control surfaces functioning on wind turbine blades, the existing blades would have to be retrofitted, and the new blades being manufactured would have to be redesigned. There are different control surfaces to consider: gurney flaps and false wall flaps are two that can perturb the boundary layer across the low pressure side of the wing. A flat plate and blade section test bed will be manufactured in order to gather empirical data from wind tunnel testing. For actuation of the control surface there are many choices: electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, and electro-hydrostatic. These actuator types will be investigated under a set of criterion to determine the best one for turbine blade application. Sensors will be investigated with respect to their use in sensing strain, temperature, acceleration, humidity, and delamination. Sensors are also used for health monitoring. This helps engineers design under a damage tolerant philosophy as opposed to a safe life structure philosophy. These sensors will be placed into laminates and different surface treatments will be reviewed to find the best configuration for each sensor. The sensor will be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, dipped in a 20% by mass solution of nitric acid, and submerged in a 20% by mass solution of nitric acid for 10 seconds. Detailed surface images will be taken of sensors with different surface treatments in order to better understand the bonding between the sensor and laminate. These images indicate that submerging the sensors into 20% by mass solution of nitric acid is the best surface treatment.