The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult is installing a test rig designed to simulate the erosion caused by the impact of water droplets on wind turbine blades at the National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.

The rig (pictured), which was purchased with funds from InnovateUK and supplied by R&D Test Systems, will enhance blade testing capabilities and research activities, ORE Catapult said.

It was delivered this week and is undergoing commissioning and rig performance analysis, ahead of becoming operational in July.

“Better understanding the fundamental physics of erosion, and how it can be mitigated, will lead to greater efficiency and reduced costs, as well as assist in the development of protective coatings and materials,” ORE Catapult added.

ORE Catapult head of business development Stephen Robertson said: “The procurement of the new rig was in direct response to a clear market need for this type of independent, open-access testing: it will allow turbine and blade manufacturers and the supply chain to investigate and mitigate the effects of rain erosion on turbine blades, and to trial new types of materials and protective coatings.”

Image: ORE Catapult