New Jersey Patent of the Month – August 2022

The efficiency of a wind turbine is surprisingly delicate. Efficient power conversion can be affected by a range of factors including the smoothness of the blade surface. This means excessive dust, ocean salt, or even insect bodies can reduce the power generated. The average wind turbine in the United States stands at 280 ft tall, so keeping the blades clean is no easy feat. While traditionally a human operated task, cleaning the blades is both dangerous and time consuming.

The engineers at InnovBot, LLC decided there is simply no need to put human operator’s lives at risk when automation is possible. As such, they designed, developed, and patented a robot specifically meant to clean wind turbine blades.

The robot uses vacuum force to remain adhered to the turbine, even in high winds. A turbine blade has a varying surface, including both convex and concave surfaces. One way to overcome this is by using a small enough robot that the change from concavity to convexity is hardly felt. However, the smaller a robot the less the cleaning efficiency. InnovBot’s design prevents these limitations by using a larger robot with a special design.

The robot is designed with a cleaning compartment with two separate sections. Each section is connected to the other by a hinge and gears, creating independent flexibility. The gears rotate to adjust the connection based on the changing blade surface. The entire system remains affixed to the blade by a vacuum system made of a suction chamber which creates a pressure differential for a vacuum seal. 

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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