Offshore Wind Turbines



Testing and classification of high-performance materials to protect wind turbine blades from leading-edge erosion by droplet impingement (BladeLEP)

Start Date

1st January 2020

End Date

31st December 2020

Principle Investigator

SEAI Research, Development & Demonstration Funding Programme 2019 

Project Manager

Dr William Finnegan

Project Partner

NUI Galway, University of Limerick

Research Area

Renewable Energy


Currently, there are a number of protective materials available that reduce or eliminate leading edge erosion on rotor blades. However, limited data and information is available to wind farm operators to assist in their decisions on adopting such materials. Therefore, in order to bridge the gap, the research team will compile characterization and performance data for the available leading edge protection materials and technologies, through mechanical and droplet impingement testing.


Leading edge erosion of wind turbine blades is a main issue for the wind energy sector leading to reduced energy output and increased maintenance costs.  To this end, the proposed project aims to investigate rain erosion resistance of leading-edge protection material systems and characterize their material properties.

Work Packages

The droplet impingement test will be performed in the Whirling Arm Rain Erosion Rig (WARER) facility at University of Limerick (UL), which was developed in 2009. This world-class, validated experimental testing facility allows test specimens to be subjected to droplet impingement at velocities typical for wind turbine blades. As this test closely mimics the erosion mechanisms present during the operation of wind turbines, it will allow the research team to assess and rank the materials investigated.


In order to achieve the aim, the following objectives will need to be realised:

To investigate droplet impingement erosion mechanisms relevant to composite wind turbine blades;
To classify existing relevant protective materials and methods of protection.

To characterise the most promising materials that, are likely to provide cost effective protection, in terms of factors such as resistance to droplet impingement erosion, application method, adhesion, cost.

To perform droplet impingement testing on sample specimens of these materials.

To evaluate and interpret the results, including erosion rates and a final ranking of the materials based on their viability for adoption.



Contact:  Jamie Goggins, NUI Galway

Email:  ei.yawlagiun@sniggog.eimaj