The Right Fire Protection Solution for Wind Energy Turbines Prevents Total Loss
22.11.2012 - The view across the countryside in Germany is continually being changed by wind turbines. In many regions, dozens of these unmanned power generators are shooting out of the ground ...
The view across the countryside in Germany is continually being changed by wind turbines. In many regions, dozens of these unmanned power generators are shooting out of the ground in the shortest space of time. And this trend is spreading around the world as alternative energy becomes increasingly important. The fire risk of such systems should not be ignored. The equipment and property damage can quickly amount to millions in the case of a fire.
Whether in the north of Germany or in far-away China, the number of over 300 foot high systems is growing continuously, amounting to many thousand. It is easy to recognize that this industry is on the upswing as a result of the transition to wind energy. If there is a failure in a wind energy turbine, a number of fire protection-related problems arise. The rotor and machinery housing several hundred feet up in the air and, with their typical fire risk and intensity, are unreachable by the fire brigade at that height. Also offshore systems that are constructed near our coasts or on the high seas cannot be readily extinguished. And so the expensive investment can in the worst case burn itself out almost without being noticed, and the damage amounts to millions. Therefore a corresponding automatic fire protection and extinguishing system must be integrated into the system and its associated buildings that reports a fire as early as possible to enable a timely reponse.
The potential causes of a fire in such wind energy turbines lie not only in the mechanical parts (gearbox, hydraulics, brakes etc.) but also in the electronics (generators, transformers, control systems). So not only the generator housings are affected but also the control systems. Apart from a lightning strike as a `natural‘ cause of fire, there are also technical fire sources such as overheated bearings, hot brakes, short circuits or maintenance oversights. Many hundreds of litres of gearbox and hydraulic oil as well as insulation and plastic parts in each system feed the fire and can lead to the total destruction of the complete system, with serious consequences.
Early Fire Recognition Is the Solution
To protect the high investment value of a wind energy turbine some effective actions are called for that look after these complex and expensive systems. In the case of a fire, it must not under any circumstances come to destruction of the entire system and the negative impact for the energy supply system.
One solution are the the Titanus air sampling smoke detection systems for early detection of fire in a wind energy turbine or the associated control station on the ground, without false alarms. Reliable smoke detection is guaranteed even under unusual climatic conditions and high dust concentrations or air streams. The low maintenance required by the easily accessible components and an almost maintenance-free piping system that continuously takes air samples are beneficial for the usually unmanned wind turbine. Active air sampling and the earliest detection enable the air sampling smoke detection system to shut down the system in good time even in the pyrolysis phase of the fire. This also enables other measures, such as the triggering of an extinguishing system, to be taken at an early stage.
The consequences of a fire in wind energy systems are severe. Even a small smoldering item in the complicated electronics can put a whole system out of action and lead to its burning down. The sharply increasing number of systems worldwide calls for effective fire protection solutions. Only if the fire detection happens at the earliest stage can actions be implemented in time and the high investment value saved. The air sampling smoke detection technology has already proved itself in a number of wind energy systems to be the best fire protection solution.
Wagner Group GmbH
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