Deterioration of cracks in onshore wind turbine foundations

McAlorum, Jack and Perry, Marcus and Fusiek, Grzegorz and Niewczas, Pawel and Mckeeman, Iain James and Rubert, Tim (2018) Deterioration of cracks in onshore wind turbine foundations. Engineering Structures, 167. pp. 121-131. ISSN 0141-0296 (

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Cracks can occur in reinforced-concrete onshore wind turbine foundations due to factors such as the use of substandard concrete mix, mistakes in foundation design or multi-stage concrete pouring under challenging weather conditions. Cracks are routinely identified via above ground inspections and follow-on examination of excavated underground surfaces and are repaired, for example with resin injection and grouting. Their impact on the structure or the efficacy of the repair are often unknown as crack degradation during normal operating conditions is unexplored. In this work, sub-surface cracks in an onshore wind turbine foundation have been instrumented with fibre-optic based strain sensors in an attempt to determine severity and magnitude of deterioration over time. Here we determine cracks monitored show a small magnitude of deterioration over the initial 9-month period after sensor installation, suggesting that repair is not required. We propose a novel methodology for the classification of the types of deterioration evident in cracks as “reactive”, “permanent” and “behavioural”, and demonstrate methods to extract these types of deterioration. Such methods will continually be developed over time as further knowledge of crack behaviour is gained to determine appropriate limits and identify the optimal time to repair.