Currently, electrical energy is produced in various ways, most commonly by thermoelectric plants, where non-renewable fossil fuels such as coal or oil are burned, with the consequent pollution.
Thanks to technological advances and a growing commitment to the environment, new ways are being sought to supply energy to households without having to use up natural resources. Hydroelectric, solar, wind or geothermal power plants are some of the alternatives.
What is the wind power industry?
Wind power is obtained from the kinetic movement of air masses. Its main function is to obtain energy. To do this, wind turbines are connected to the power grid.
History of wind energy
Despite what one might think from the terminology, wind energy has been with us for many centuries, providing energy and movement, as for ships.It has also been at the root of great and well known adventures, such as those of Don Quixote, who saw windmills that to him looked like giants, and fought nobly against them.
Wind as a force for movement has been studied for many years and, after a decline in its use and popularity, in the eighties of the last century it was reborn in a much more modern form. This time it was not harnessed by wooden structures or wind pumps with metal blades, but by wind turbines that have been evolving over the years and appeared in many countries around the globe.
The parts of a wind turbine
Wind turbines are the undisputed leaders in the task of converting kinetic energy into electrical energy. They can have a vertical or horizontal axis, and consist of the following parts:
- Ground to be anchored to (In the case of wind farms, there need to be large enough spaces between the towers so that the turbines do not collide with each other).
- Connection to the electricity grid to reach households.
- Tower that supports the weight of the structure and has an access staircase inside
- Gondola or nacelle, where all the mechanical and electrical elements of the wind turbine are housed
- Anemometer that detects the wind direction, analyzes its position in order to take full advantage of the power generating capacity, and takes measurements
- Blades (usually three, placed at angles like a propeller), which take the energy from the movement of the wind and rotate the hub.
- Blade tilting system, which changes the blades’ angle.
- Hub, located at the center of the blades, which is the main shaft responsible for transmitting the wind force to the inside of the nacelle.
The kinetic energy that reaches the top of the wind turbine provides that propeller with mechanical energy that will later be transformed into electrical energy thanks to a generator that it turns.
What materials is a wind turbine made of?
These windmills are approximately 150 meters high and weigh between 50 and 60 tons. To withstand such tremendous weight and the movement of the wind, the material used to manufacture the components of a wind turbine must be extremely durable.
Most blades are made of polyester or epoxy resin (a thermosetting polymer) reinforced with fiberglass.
However, the tower has to carry all the weight, so it is usually made of steel, or even concrete. Tubular steel towers are manufactured in sections of 20-30 meters with flanges at each end, joined with bolts.
ULMA Forged Solutions, committed to the environment
ULMA Forged Solutions has been committed to a sustainable world for many years, so it therefore devotes part of its knowledge, resources and technology to developing products for renewable energy.
This is the reason that we develop forged pieces for the wind power industry with ring rolling processes (allowing us to forge rings with up to 3 meter diameters and cross sections), and forged blades. In addition, we also have closed-die technology, which allows us to manufacture components in extreme alloys, and the exclusive EN9100 quality system, which allows us to manufacture aerospace and aeronautical materials.