[singlepic id=628 w=320 h=240 float=right]ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In West Texas, New Mexico, and other places around the world, wind turbines are used to generate electricity. But how can engineers determine their efficiency and health?

Sandia’s Wind Energy Technology Department has developed a device, the Accurate Time Linked data Acquisition System (ATLAS II), which answers that question and can provide all of the information necessary to understand how well a machine is performing.

Housed in an environmentally protected aluminum box, ATLAS II is capable of sampling a large number of signals at once to characterize the inflow, the operational state, and the structural response of a wind turbine.

The ATLAS II has several key attributes that make it particularly attractive for wind turbine deployment. It is small, highly reliable, can operate continuously, uses off-the-shelf components, and has lightning protection on all channels.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

“The system provides us with sufficient data to help us understand how our turbine blade designs perform in real-world conditions, allowing us to improve on the original design and our design codes,” says Jose Zayas, the project lead, who has been working on ATLAS II since its inception in 1999.

Last year the ATLAS II team completed a project with GE Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to monitor the performance of a GE wind turbine in a Great Plains site about 30 miles south of Lamar, Colo., and will soon start monitoring a new work-for-others (WFO) project with Texas Tech University.