In-cloud icing detection with new prototype short range cw LIDAR

VTT’s Wind Power team has over 25 years of experience in cold climate wind energy applications ranging from icing wind tunnel testing to blade heating development to simulation of aeroelastic effects of icing on turbine lifetime. Senior Scientist Ville Lehtomäki writes about team’s newest results.

Ville Lehtomäki VTT

In order to explore new technical innovations within cold climate wind energy and specifically wind tunnel testing, VTT has teamed up with Danish Technical University (DTU Wind Energy) and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and research organization Sintef in a collaborative research project called LIDARS for wind tunnels (L4WT). The aim of the project is to gain and share knowledge about the possibilities and limitations with LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) instrumentation in wind tunnels and to foster collaboration for alignment of research activities relevant to wind conditions in cold climate.

Wind energy in cold climates (encompassing both low temperatures and icing climates) is expanding rapidly with an amazing 12 GW/year rate [1] equivalent of 4,000 large 3MW wind turbines with hub heights up to 160m and rotor diameters typically around 130m. This large market has some special challenges especially regarding atmospheric icing conditions leading to ice accretion for wind turbines. Ice accretion on turbine blades may cause severe production losses up to 20 % of annual energy production, increase turbine mechanical loading and sound emissions from blades as well as increasing of ice throw hazards.

DTU Wind Energy has developed a new continuous wave short range compact LIDAR telescope (called Lidic) prototype for very small sampling volumes for studying blade section wind inflow conditions as well as wind farm wake dynamics of scaled wind turbines in boundary-layer wind tunnels. This new Lidic prototype was also tested at VTT Icing Wind Tunnel for unique observations of single droplets of typical in-cloud icing conditions seen in nature.

VTT Icing wind tunnelThe lidar telescope mounted on an robot arm in the VTT Icing Wind Tunnel in Finland, Mikko Tiihonen from VTT Wind Power team making final adjustments before measurements

The uniqueness of this project is that once the project ends in 2017, all measurement data will be made available for EERA JP WIND research community to boost new research innovations from the conducted Icing Wind Tunnel experiments. It is foreseen that the conducted experiments will result into novel research articles as well as increasing knowledge of icing wind tunnel testing.

The work described here has received support from IRPWIND, a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for Research, Technological development and Demonstration.

Ville Lehtomäki, Senior Scientist 

[1] IEA Wind Task 19. (2016, July 29). Emerging from the cold. (WindPower Monthly) Retrieved August 22, 2016, from

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