PO156a

Airbag inflator technology for wind turbines fire extinguishing systems

Evrad BORG 1, Maury KHABAZI2
1AIRBUS SAFRAN LAUNCHERS, SAINT MEDARD EN JALLES, France, 2ESSER by HONEYWELL, TOULOUSE, France

Abstract

Wind power has become one of the leading industries in the renewable energy sector by providing reliable, environmentally-friendly and cost effective renewable energy solution. The raison of this success is undoubtedly the sustained effort carried out year after year that drives down the cost of wind energy and makes it more and more competitive with conventional energies. In parallel, installed powers have been progressively become stronger, remotely erected onshore and offshore, and wind turbines them-selves have been designed bigger and bigger.
Nevertheless and according to recent researches, this power scale up has raised fire to the second leading cause of major accidents after blade breaks. Consequently, fire has become a matter of major concern for stakeholders and mainly for operators of wind farms and insurers caring about direct loss of equipment, disruption of production and negative image instantly and widely disseminated.
In addition to typical requirements related to conventional fire extinguishing systems, wind turbines pose particular constraints arising out of their design and construction:
• Nacelle accessibility, space and height from the ground imply many difficulties for in situ handling and assembly and make maintenance tasks much more expensive;
• Electric and electronic equipment, flammable oils and hydraulic fluids physically present in same confined enclosures present high potential risks of fire due to short-circuits, over-voltages and frictions of moving mechanical parts.

Method

Airbus Safran Launchers and Honeywell propose an innovative fire extinguishing system that balances dependability, early detection, high extinguishing performance and minimum maintenance.
This new fire extinguishing system implements know-how acquired since 25 years in the field of airbags inflators that offer following benefits:
• No maintenance during life cycle (no pressure vessel);
• Easy conveyance and handling.

Results

This poster presents:
• The design of fire extinguishers implementing airbag inflator technology, built-up as integrated, compact and maintenance-free devices (no pressure vessel), enabling to contain and spray various types of liquids and powders agents, and providing a single hardware for various vulnerable areas of wind turbines;
• Pertinent diagram regarding fire detection;
• Theoretical approach and spraying tests examples which clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of this innovative fire extinguishing system.

Conclusions

The issue of wind turbine accessibility is a real concern for wind farms surveillance and maintenance teams by adding several regulatory constraints (work at height, electrical accreditation, safety harnesses, emergency evacuation,...) and consequently, substantial costs for wind farms operators and owners.

The innovative fire extinguishing system activated by inflators (airbag technology) is so a real asset due to its self-sufficiency and lack of periodic checking.

Objectives

Delegates will learn an innovative technology dedicated to fire extinguishing systems which is particularly relevant for remote and unmanned industrial equipment as are wind turbines, wind farms substations and storage units of electricity.