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Christine Heistermann, PhD in steel structures, Luleå University of Technology. Photo: Ted Karlsson. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Smart connection key to higher wind turbines

Published: 20 January 2015

The towers of wind turbines tend to be higher and higher, which creates big demands on the construction, not least for the connections that are being used. In a new doctoral thesis at Luleå University of Technology, Christine Heistermann gives recommendations for how the connections should be designed.

– The use of friction connections with open slotted holes can reduce the cost of a steel tubular tower with up to 15 percent, mainly by material savings. Faster assembly and simpler fabrication and design processes can reduce the cost further. Most important of all is that this type of connection improves the strength of the tower since the connection itself will no longer be the weak link of the structure. This offers the possibility to use high-strength steel for the tower shell, says Christine Heistermann, PhD in steel structures at Luleå University of Technology.

Friction connection with open slotted holes for application in steel tubular tower.
Friction connection with open slotted holes for application in steel tubular tower.

– The ability to build high and stable wind turbines is desirable because of higher wind speeds and a more stable wind blow. It also makes room for larger rotor diameters, to which the generated power is directly proportional in square. A high tower replaces a number of shorter, thus reducing environmental impact.

Christine Heistermann's research is funded by the Centre for High Performance Steel at Luleå University of Technology and also by the European Research Fund for Coal and Steel, in the projects High Strength Steel Tower for Wind Turbines (HISTWIN) and High Strength Tubular Towers for Wind Turbines (HISTWIN2).