Japanese develop drone that tests lightning rods on wind turbines

To prevent a wind turbine from being damaged by lightning strikes, the rotor tips and housing are fitted with lightning rods. These can lose their function over time due to lightning strikes, so the next strike can lead to a fire or worse. A Japanese company has now developed a drone to test lightning rods on wind turbines.

Lightning damage

Windmills are preferably placed as freestanding and high as possible to catch as much wind as possible. This has the inherent disadvantage that the risk of lightning strikes is high. Such an impact can be disastrous: the force of an impact can mechanically damage rotors or housing, not to mention the fire hazard. There is also a risk of a fatal peak current in the electrical installation.

For this reason, the rotors and housing are equipped with lightning rods, which safely discharge the current from a lightning strike to the ground. However, with repeated impacts, these rods can lose their functionality over time. Corrosion of connections can also lead to reduced performance. For this reason, the rods must be inspected regularly.

YouTube video

Test conductivity with a drone

The Japanese company Fukushima Sangikyo has developed a drone that can perform this specific inspection. At first glance, the new type of inspection drone is an odd one out. The drone does not have the usual inspection cameras but a kind of ‘catch net' at the top of the device, consisting of a piece of electrically conductive mesh.

During an inspection, the mesh is pressed against the lightning rod on each rotor tip by the drone. The gauze is then put under tension. If a leakage current starts to flow, it is a sign that the lightning rod is working properly. If not, a closer inspection should reveal what the problem is.

The idea for the mesh arose after several experiments with other conductors. The problem was that it is difficult to make good electrical contact with a hard part on the rotor tip. This problem is circumvented by using a somewhat flexible mesh. The company has even applied for a patent for this solution.

Japanese Develop Drone That Tests Lightning Rods On Wind Turbines

Latest tests

Fukushima Sangikyo is conducting the final tests this year. The inspection drone is expected to be operational in the spring of 2023. The hope is that the new drone can drastically reduce inspection time and thus costs for this type of inspection.

You can read more stories about the rapidly advancing drone technology on DroneXL.


Discover more from DroneXL

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Proposed legislation threatens your ability to use drones for fun, work, and safety. The Drone Advocacy Alliance is fighting to ensure your voice is heard in these critical policy discussions.Join us and tell your elected officials to protect your right to fly.

Drone Advocacy Alliance
TAKE ACTION NOW
Follow us on Google News!

Get your Part 107 Certificate

Pass the test and take to the skies with the Pilot Institute. We have helped thousands of people become airplane and commercial drone pilots. Our courses are designed by industry experts to help you pass FAA tests and achieve your dreams.

pilot institute dronexl

Copyright © DroneXL.co 2024. All rights reserved. The content, images, and intellectual property on this website are protected by copyright law. Reproduction or distribution of any material without prior written permission from DroneXL.co is strictly prohibited. For permissions and inquiries, please contact us first.

FTC: DroneXL.co is an Amazon Associate and uses affiliate links that can generate income from qualifying purchases. We do not sell, share, rent out, or spam your email.

Wiebe de Jager
Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

Articles: 312

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

en_USEnglish (United States)