Picture of the month

Wind power in snow and ice

Wind power plays a crucial role in providing an environmentally friendly, reliable and affordable energy supply. One challenge in the year-round uninterrupted operation of wind turbines is the icing up of the turbine by supercooled water droplets. In winter, ice build-up due to low-hanging clouds or fog is also possible at German locations. This has a negative impact on electricity production and operational safety. In the Braunschweig Icing Wind Tunnel, scientists are investigating how ice build-up can be prevented or how de-icing can be simplified.

Iced test cylinder with different microstructured foils in the Braunschweig Icing Wind Tunnel of the Institute of Fluid Mechanics at TU Braunschweig. Photo credit: Vickram Singh

When ice accumulates, wind turbines have to be shut down at most locations and can therefore no longer produce electricity. Ice build-up compromises the safety of the turbine – due to additional, unevenly distributed ice loads on the rotor blades, for example. And the area around the structure is also no longer safe – due to ice pieces that have been thrown off and have chipped off. Many turbines are therefore equipped with heaters on the rotor blades, the use of which naturally reduces the electrical power fed into the grid. By reducing the ice build-up or simplifying the de-icing process, it will be possible in future to increase the amount of electricity produced by wind turbines in winter.

Inspired by the lotus effect

To achieve this goal, the Institute of Fluid Mechanics (ISM) has joined forces with the company Coldsense Technologies GmbH and the Institute of Manufacturing Science and Engineering at Technische Universität Dresden. Together they have initiated the research project “MicroIce”. This project is investigating the influence of specially perforated plastic films with strong water- or ice-repellent properties, inspired by the lotus effect, on the formation of ice on wind turbines.

Simulation of a cloud

The first experiments have already taken place in the Braunschweig Icing Wind Tunnel, in which different foils were compared with each other. The Braunschweig Icing Wind Tunnel enables the simulation of a realistic cloud of supercooled water droplets with droplet sizes between 10 and 50 micrometres, which then hit a test body and freeze into ice there. The first results of the measurement campaign show that the films using the lotus effect can change the ice formation and significantly reduce the adhesion of the ice to the surface.


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Pictures of previous months

Picture of the month December 2022

When metallic materials are exposed to stresses such as high temperatures and tensions over a long period of time, changes occur in their microstructure. In turbine blades, these lead to potential material damage, but researchers from the Institute of Materials Science are taking advantage of precisely this mechanism. They are using it to produce nanoporous membranes made of a nickel base superalloy that could be used in pharmaceuticals. What these membranes look like under the microscope is shown in our picture of the month. Read more

Picture of the month November 2022

“Research in the process of becoming” – this is how professor Martin Geier describes his picture of the month. It shows an intermediate step on the way to a physically correct simulation of a falling concrete drop. The simulation should help to understand the behaviour of fluids with large density differences. This understanding can later be used to increase the stability of shotcrete structures. On the way to this goal, professor Geier’s team is still working on parameters such as viscosity and surface tension to adapt the simulation to real conditions. Read more

Picture of the month October 2022

From left to right: five seconds of dense fog. Our picture of the month shows a section of the wind lidar project of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB). In this project, the team around Dr. Michael Eggert and Paul Wilhelm is constantly developing a system that sets new standards in remote wind measurements: PTB’s bistatic wind lidar. Although the fog image is rather a curious special case (the lidar can be used even at very low particle densities and clear visibility): In fog, the novel measuring instrument demonstrates its performance and resolution particularly impressively. Read more

Picture of the month September 2022

Whether heart valves, urinary bladders or tracheas: through tissue construction and tissue engineering, these organs have already been successfully replaced artificially in patients. Other organs, such as the stomach, are much more complex. They consist of different tissues, different cell types and are also permeated by countless blood vessels. In order to improve the quality of life of gastric resection patients with a new stomach replacement therapy, the biomechanics laboratory is researching the mechanical properties of a healthy stomach on different size scales. Read more

Picture of the month August 2022

Oregano makes people happy and insects too! – that could be the motto for our picture of the month. Oregano is an indispensable spice in Italian cuisine, but it also has numerous positive properties for humans and the environment. In the Medicinal Plant Garden of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology at Technische Universität Braunschweig, you can find not only the well-known Mediterranean oregano but also the native wild oregano. Read more

Picture of the month July 2022

Not all electron microscopes are the same. Since the first set-up in 1931, researchers have been working at great expense to achieve ever higher resolutions. The most powerful electron microscope at the TU Braunschweig, the TEM, is therefore completely sealed off from mechanical vibrations (such as trams rattling past) and magnetic fields (such as the earth’s magnetic field) at the LENA research centre. Read more

Picture of the month June 2022

UV light has a wide range of applications: Depending on the wavelength and energy intensity of the light, UV LEDs can sterilise surfaces and water, make tomatoes grow particularly tasty or be used in dermatology for skin treatments. However, the efficiency of the “invisible” UV LEDs can still be improved. A team at the Institute of Semiconductor Technology is researching this. Their approach: The crystal layers within the UV LEDs are laid out three-dimensionally as a microstructure instead of as a two-dimensional disc, as was previously the case. Analyses under the electron microscope – as seen here in the Picture of the Month June – indicate a high efficiency of the UV LEDs constructed in this way. Read more

Picture of the month May 2022

What role does a street play in the overall network? And how do the individual segments of the urban street network relate to each other? This is what the SpACE Lab at ISU – Institute for Sustainable Urbanism at Technische Universität Braunschweig is working on. The “Spatial Analytics and Crossdisciplinarity Experimentation Lab” develops data-driven methods and solutions for human centric sustainable mobility. In the work shown here, the interdisciplinary team focuses on developing a network-based user-centric categorisation of street segments. This can be used, for example, to make statements about the quality of the network for different street users. Our picture of the month May visualises this categorisation to get a better understanding of the Urban Street Network.

Picture of the month April 2022

Our picture of the month April 2022 does not show a landscape on a distant planet, but a special fabric. The piece of fabric, which measures about four by two centimetres, can be found in various places on the inside of a so-called ECG T-shirt. It is used to measure an electrocardiogram (ECG) without the patients noticing anything. The Peter L. Reichertz Institute for Medical Informatics (PLRI) at Technische Universität Braunschweig and the Medizinische Hochschule Hannover is using this to research the future of health monitoring. Read more

Picture of the month March 2022

The picture shows a scan of a ground-penetrating radar. It shows unchanging objects in the ground. If the data is combined with the position from laser measurements, a map developed from this information can be used for the navigation of mobile robots. A laser or cameras would then no longer be necessary. The Institute for Mobile Machines and Commercial Vehicles is conducting research on this in the “LoBaBo” project. Read more

Picture of the month February 2022

Here they are, the first early bloomers in the Botanical Garden poking their little heads out. The native winter aconite is one of the quickest. With its bright yellow flowers, it already has its big moment in February. Under the still leafless trees, the small tuberous flowers form dense flower carpets and set bright colour accents. Reason enough to take a closer look at the plants in our picture of the month. Read more

Picture of the month January 2022

For the researchers, the headspace GC/MS system shown in the Picture of the Month is an eagerly awaited addition for battery analysis. It was purchased for BLB diagnostic line. It will now make it possible to better understand battery aging and develop longer-lasting batteries. It is a system for the analysis of liquid electrolytes or soluble surface deposits in the components of a battery. Read more

You can find more pictures of the month in our magazine.