There’s a sinister side to the blazing turbines

A fscinating and thought provoking letter:-

There’s a sinister side to the blazing turbines

PHOTOGRAPHS of a Scottish wind turbine burning itself to spectacular destruction are similar to pictures of incidents in the U.S. and elsewhere. This seems to be a characteristic failure mode for the commonest configuration of wind turbine and isn’t specific to one size, model or manufacturer. In all cases, the flames are intense and look much more like burning alloy than plastic. The other oddity is that the glass-reinforced plastic should burn so completely in the apparent absence of any other fuel or accelerant. What these different turbines have in common is a generator based on supermagnetic alloys of rare earth metals. In the Vietnam War, the United States Air Force found that although its Spectre gunships were hitting Vietnamese supply trucks with 40 mm cannon, the damage was repaired and the vehicles back in service within days. One response was to fit a much bigger gun. The other was to produce 40 mm explosive shells cased in a rare earth alloy. On detonation, this made dense penetrating fragments, as a steel casing would, but these fragments not only burned, the ash from the burning metal catalysed the combustion of hydrocarbons, promoting an intense fire in fuel, lubricants and rubber, totally destroying the truck with a single hit. Might the supermagnetic alloy in a wind turbine generator exhibit similar properties? This could explain heavily glass-loaded composites burning like a polystyrene cup. If a zirconium or titanium alloy is present in gearboxes or bearings, perhaps as a hard plating, that might behave the same way. If the fire involves a burning heavy metal alloy, has anyone tested the area around and downwind of the stricken turbine, for heavy metal fallout? How toxic might it be if it’s there? Many wind turbines are located on gorse and heather-covered moor and heathland or near conifer plantations. Has anyone assessed the risks posed if strong winds follow hot dry weather and a wind turbine spreads chunks of burning alloy and composite over a wide area? Might the primary source of the ignition not be friction in bearings and gears, as everyone assumes, but an inductive effect between the supermagnetic materials and generator coils which aren’t connected to any electrical load? There might be a powerful arcing discharge — it’s hard to see metal alloy being ignited by anything less intense.

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