Saarland & RWTH Anchen Researchers Developing Monopiles
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Saarland & RWTH Anchen Researchers Developing Monopiles

European high grade steel maker Dillinger announced that researchers are working to further develop monopile production for offshore wind farms with

European high grade steel maker Dillinger announced that researchers are working to further develop monopile production for offshore wind farms with Dillinger. With an output of around ten megawatts, today’s wind turbines on the open sea have enormous dimensions. Their gigantic nacelles with a generator, rotor and rotor blades spanning more than 100 meters stand atop a steel tower. This tower, in turn, rests in the sea on colossal steel pipes known as monopiles, currently measuring up to ten meters in diameter and weighing 1,500 tonnes. To ensure that these can withstand storms, waves and aggressive saltwater over many years and still be produced economically, materials researchers at Saarland University and mechanical engineers at RWTH Aachen University want to work together with steel specialist Dillinger and other companies to develop new, customized steel grades. The research project is being supported with EUR 1.2 million from the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.

Producing the huge steel pipes for offshore wind farms requires heavy plate like that produced by the steel company Dillinger in Saarland. The plates, with wall thickness of about ten centimeters, are welded together to form pipe sections with diameters of up to ten meters. These are then joined piece by piece with additional welding seams to lengths totaling more than 80 meters.

The materials researcher and his team have developed special analytical techniques that can be used to quantitatively represent all changes in this internal structure of materials. The researcher uses high-resolution electron and ion microscopes for this, ranging up to nanotomography and atom probe tomography. Information and image sequences acquired at various scales in this process are then reassembled in the computer to form a precise spatial image of the steel structure, down to the individual atom.

The project partners are now working together with monopile producers EEW Special Pipe Constructions, the Sif Group, and the welding consumables and power source manufacturer Lincoln Electric to further optimize the steel of the heavy plate for the welding processes used in constructing offshore wind turbines.

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