Wind turbines are becoming an increasingly important source of renewable energy. They play a valuable role in strategies established by numerous countries to reduce their dependency on non- renewable fossil fuels. In today’s ever developing world wind turbines are used for an array of applications such as providing power for charging batteries for boats and caravans, to larger scale applications providing domestic energy and contributing unused power back to the electrical grid. Collections of larger turbines, known as wind farms, also widely contribute to larger applications.
With wind turbines making such a large contribution to the world’s energy supplies it is imperative that they are functional 100% of the time, however wind turbines commonly pose a number of issues when it comes to fire detection.
What are the Requirements for Wind Turbine Fire Detection Systems?
Given that uptime is of such a high priority there are certain factors that must be considered when selecting suitable fire detection. Early warning is important as to ensure that a controlled shut down can be implemented, however nuisance alarms can not be tolerated as unnecessary shut downs can result in excessive down time. Wind turbines are relatively inaccessible and service time windows are short so this makes maintenance of fire alarms difficult. Limited space also means that detectors need to be compact and, of course, cost and complexity of retro fitting is also a massive consideration.
What Fire Issues do Wind Turbines Present?
Commonly reported issues with using traditional detection methods within wind turbines are: poor alarm response times, false alarms due to large temperature changes and their inability to cope with airborne contaminants that are produced during emergency stop functions.
Wind turbines also host an array of vulnerabilities with regards to fire risk including; high voltage cabling, controls and equipment, overheating electrical control equipment, overheating of mechanical components, arcing, lightning and static electricity, varying air speeds and environmental conditions within the generator.
What is the Solution?
There are a number of aspirating smoke detection solutions available that would be the ideal for detecting fire within a wind turbine. The EFFTP, the EFFT1 and the EFLASD in particular are available from Eurofyre. A number of benefits are linked with aspirating smoke detection (or ASD) that can help to address the issues that are present while providing reliable detection.
ASD can provide a very early warning of fire, not only this but different alarm levels can be linked to individual outputs to provide a response to each alarm level. An input from the braking mechanism of the turbine can also be provided to the detector relaying messages when the brakes are applied to the turbine thus preventing nuisance alarms during emergency and operation braking.
To detect fire, the aspirating smoke detector actively draws air through a network of pipes to monitor the presence of smoke particles. These pipes can be rigid or flexible and are typically routed along the critical areas of wind turbines. Sampled air can also be drawn through a series of filters before entering the sampling chamber to further eliminate the risk of false alarm.
There is also management software such as the Xtralis VSM4 management software which can provide comprehensive integration of all your compatible fire protection systems. The software has been designed with a userfriendly interface to provide an easy to use system to allow you to monitor, quickly assess and respond to system events from one convenient location.
For more information on aspirating smoke detection or to discuss any of the products that Eurofyre have to offer please feel free to get in touch either by phone on +44 (0) 1329 835 024, by email to [email protected] or via the online enquiry form situated on our contact page.