GE’s Patented PulsePoint System Picks Up Good (and Bad) Vibrations

As the leading U.S. wind turbine supplier (its turbines generate forty percent of installed U.S. wind energy capacity), it makes sense that GE would invest in technology to keep all those turbines operating efficiently and reliably.

GE recently issued a press release about its new wind farm monitoring and diagnostic system.  Called PulsePOINT, the system incorporates anomaly detection algorithms with wind farm and fleet data to identify problems in turbine operations and recommend appropriate corrective actions.

GE recently obtained a patent on its PulsePOINT system.  The technology behind PulsePOINT is protected by U.S. Patent No. 8,219,356, entitled “System and method for detecting anomalies in wind turbines.” (‘356 Patent).

The ‘356 Patent is directed to methods and devices which detect anomalies in wind turbines by monitoring and comparing data from a first wind turbine and data from a group of turbines similar to the first turbine and generating a sensor error if the monitored data of the first wind turbine deviates more than a predetermined amount from the monitored data of the group of wind turbines.

A second recent patent relates to GE’s condition monitoring system (CMS) technology, which monitors drivetrain vibration and is one input to the PulsePOINT monitoring package.

U.S. Patent No. 8,162,788, entitled “System, device and method for wind turbine control based on operating profiles” (‘788 Patent), issued April 25, 2012.

The ‘788 Patent is directed to a device for use in controlling a wind turbine.  One or more sensors (120) are coupled to a wind turbine.  A sensor monitor (130) receives signals from the sensors (120) via sensor interface (132) and processes the signals by processor (134) to create a plurality of parameter values.

Per independent claim 1, the only independent claim of the ‘788 Patent, the parameter values include two different sets of values with the first set of parameter values being indicative of wind turbine vibration.  

A client device (204) receives the data, and a processor (224) coupled to a wind turbine communication interface (228) associates each of the received parameter values with one of a plurality of operating modes of the wind turbine to create a turbine operating profile for each mode.

Philip Totaro of Totaro & Associates, which tracks wind industry and technology developments, said PulsePOINT is an important tool for improving turbine reliability and performance:

This technology represents an important step for wind turbine manufacturers and service providers in understanding what’s happening to their fleet.  It will help flush out reliability and performance problems and greatly assist in driving down operations & maintenance (O&M) costs.  This could also provide GE some key turbine fleet performance data for their move to production based turbine availability and production based O&M.

According to this Greentech Media piece, GE’s Remote Operations Centers monitors 6,000 wind turbines around the world 24/7.  That’s a lot of vibrations.

Eric Lane Avatar

Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.