Wind Turbine Monitoring Using Optical MEMS Sensor

20160502_162338In mid-april technicians from CEKO Sensors installed a full optical MEMS based monitoring system on a Vestas V52 wind turbine – now data has arrived and the results are ready.

Vibrations from the turbine are captured by a highly advanced silicon microchip using a frequency modulated method unique to CEKO sensors known as refractive index modulations. The sensor signal is monitored by a data acquisition system located in the nacelle and then, using wireless communication, transmitted directly to technicians sitting some 30 km away for further analysis and decision making.

“This is a powerful demonstration of the potential of the metal-free optical MEMS sensors from CEKO”, Kasper Reck-Nielsen, CEO at CEKO Sensors ApS, remarks, “… it shows that structural health monitoring of wind turbine blades using lightning safe metal-free sensors is no longer a vision of the future, but something we can do today using our optical MEMS technology”.

By analyzing the vibrations measured using the MEMS sensors, the structural condition of the turbine can be deduced. This provides critital information for wind turbine operators as it allows for significant increases in cost efficiency of wind turbines, by drastically reducing repair and maintenance cost and minimizing costly downtime and related production loss.

Christian Østergaard, CTO at CEKO Sensors, explains that cost, ease of installation and stability are key concerns when it comes to sensors for wind turbines. “Our sensors are made using highly scalable MEMS technology that allows us to make small, cost-efficient and rugged sensors in large quantities that are extremely easy to install and operate”, he says, “… using refractive index modulation as our sensing principle, we can push frequency modulated optical sensors into completely new application areas and wind turbine blade monitoring is one of them”.