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Harsh environments

Large systems tested under harsh weather conditions

Large machines and electromechanical systems, such as wind turbines, but also heavy equipment such as construction equipment and energy transmission infrastructure, are more and more frequently installed in remote locations and must therefore remain operational even under harsh weather conditions, from the icy North and open sea to mountain or desert areas. Less extreme weather in other locations – for example, atmospheric ice crystals – can also damage and strain machines and equipment.

Performing climatic system tests on large components or complete machines to validate the reliability and performance is one of the core activities at our climatic test chamber facility at the Port of Antwerp. The large climatic test chamber is used to test and validate large and heavy-duty machinery under harsh weather conditions. Extreme temperatures (-60 °C to +60 °C), high humidity (95% RH), infrared heat and ice formation can be simulated in a controlled manner to offer insight into the resistance capacity and operational limitations of the components used for wind turbines, solar power plants, energy storage solutions, etc. A new testing option was added in 2020: ice formation tests on a new test set-up that can be placed in the large climatic test chamber. This type of new feature makes it possible to test wind turbines, drones or aviation components and enables research into the behaviour of anti-freeze coatings and ice detection methods. 

Test setup provides insight into ice formation

Validation and test installations were set up as part of the H2020 NewSkin and COOCK Fighting Icing projects to demonstrate the performance of the manufactured components in realistic environments and applications. The Sirris on- and offshore wind energy programme and the coating team take part in both projects. A test set-up for ice was developed in the large climatic test chamber. Its dimensions are approximately 6 m x 3 m x 5 m (length x width x height), with icy precipitation applied by 25 atomisers. Various high-quality ice structures and types are created to simulate ice formation circumstances worldwide. We can thus support the industry by performing ice formation tests on all types of systems, materials and equipment at actual scales. The size of the set-up means the effect of ice formation can be tested on multiple coating samples at the same time. The set-up also enables the testing of coating functionality on actual components (actual size). The time required to build up the ice, melt it and measure its thickness, density and adherence and the impact of droplets are considered. A 3D scanner is used to document the shape of the ice and our thermal camera is used to compare and research the melding solution of specific machines.


Exploring the potential of nano-based surfaces

The new H2020 NewSkin project, in which Sirris is a participant, explores the potential of nano-based surfaces for industrial and consumer products.

NewSkin aims to accelerate the industrial adoption of surface nanotechnologies in Europe. The objectives of this H2020 project include the establishment of an ‘Open Innovation Test Bed’ (OITB), a new legal entity that will provide the European Innovation Ecosystem with the necessary technologies, resources and services, including a set of ground-breaking, efficient and cost-effective innovative processes for the production of nano-based industrial and consumer products, as well as the necessary testing capacity to demonstrate the properties of nano-based goods.

The innovative production facilities for scaling and testing will provide the Innovation Ecosystem with the necessary tools to create TRL7 and new technologies to meet the challenges of key European sectors and industry in general.

Sirris will immediately convert the knowledge gathered from the project for Flemish industry via the COOCK Fighting Icing project, in which concrete solutions for ice formation issues and their implementation are investigated.

Fighting risk of ice formation

The Fighting Icing project converts state-of-the-art knowledge and solutions to detect ice formation issues in various applications – including wind energy, aviation and drones, aerospace, offshore structures, transportation –into structured and concrete methodologies for implementation.

The COOCK Fighting Icing project focuses specifically on atmospheric ice formation in climates with low and moderate temperatures, such as Belgium and similar regions. This is done by recreating the relevant icing events in a laboratory environment, by testing and evaluating the state-of-the-art ice and ice-free detection methods, and by evaluating anti-freeze or de-icing surfaces (i.e. coatings and laser texturing) for these conditions. At the end of the project, a summary of the optimum solutions to solve ice-related issues will be provided.
The 'Icing risks and mitigation solutions' webinar on 26 November 2020 provided participants with an overview of ice formation risks in various sectors (wind energy, drones, aviation and aerospace industry, and offshore industry). Sirris experts and guest speakers explained the importance of the implementation of proper icing risk mitigation measures and solutions.