Under the surface with: Simon Sanderson
We meet Simon Sanderson from ROTOS 360 the wind turbine specialist company which has just joined the James Fisher group.
Simon Sanderson, 59, technical director with ROTOS 360
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve always been fascinated by design and aerodynamics, creating my own model racing boats as a child and then going on to study astrophysics at university. In my twenties, I got involved in speed sailing, working on the design and construction of hydrofoils and catamarans before discovering windsurfing as a competitor and board designer.
More recently I’ve turned my expertise to aerodynamics rather than hydrodynamics to design fast recumbent bikes and my main focus in recent years has been in translating those dynamic design and construction challenges to the development of efficiencies within wind and tidal power.
What is your current role?
Back in 2012 I applied for a TSB research project into the inspection and repair of offshore wind turbines using a suspended work platform concept, and I then went on to join forces with a small team of other enthusiasts to form ROTOS 360.
The linking feature that binds my sailing and cycling passions with my interest in renewable energy, is the fluid dynamics which need to be incorporated into the design and the composite engineering that goes into the creation of something at the cutting edge of aero or hydro dynamics.
What projects are you working on?
When I was speed sailing, I was sponsored by British engineering company, SP Systems, which later became Gurit. I’ve worked closely with the Gurit design teams over the years to help push forward the development of an ultra violet ‘cured’ resin for the repair of wind turbines.
Together we have been testing and developing the RENUVO UV curing method which cures blades 25 times faster than the conventionally used Epoxy curing, cutting the curing time for a large repair from six hours to about five minutes in a much wider range of climatic conditions than conventional repair processes.
This is an industry-changing product which will keep wind turbines operational for longer and make huge cost savings.
What’s so good about the new curing system?
Turbine blades can be up to 90m in diameter, and they have to be perfectly aerodynamic to function effectively, but damage from weather, insects or birds can cause erosion as they move through the air at speeds of up to 200mph. This dramatically reduces their efficiency. Routine repair is a time-consuming process which has always been highly weather dependent.
But when RENUVO is used to repair surface chips and cracks it can be cured (or hardened) with a hand-held portable UV lamp in minutes rather than hours demanded by the old heat-based system.
The UV system is effective in temperatures as low as 5C and as high as 30C in conditions of up to 90% humidity. This increases weather windows for repairs allowing teams to work around the clock.
Using it in conjunction with the ROTOS 360 suspended access platforms which allow 360 degree access to large complex and damaged areas, enables us to now offer the exciting turnkey repair solution we used on a major recent project.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the fact that my work in renewable energy draws on experience I gained through designing and constructing speed sailing craft, and I am delighted that ROTOS 360 is able to help develop environmentally friendly energy sources and work to reduce their cost.
I’m very proud that Rotos 360 is now part of the James Fisher group and excited that the team will be joining a family of companies with such wide-ranging experience.
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