Meet the future Ruben

Meet the future Rubén Anchondo

Monday 13 Dec 21

From a job in the industry in Mexico to research into damages of wind turbine blades at DTU – Rubén Anchondo has been far and wide to work with what he is dedicated to.

Today, Rubén Anchondo is a PhD student at DTU Wind Energy where he is doing research in the mechanisms that cause breaks of wind turbine blades.

What are your scientific interests?
“I am working to investigate the physical mechanisms that cause the failure of the so-called composite structures which are used for wind turbine blades,” says Rubén and elaborates: “Composite structures offer advantages in many respects compared to other materials such as metals, however, these also bring new challenges as their failure mechanisms are more complex compared to metals.” Rubén’s current studies are directly applicable in the wind turbine industry where researchers are working with the durability of the materials as damages of wind turbine blades are a great challenge for the wind turbine manufacturers. Damages are expensive for them; both because they mean larger expenses for the maintenance of the wind turbine blades and because, in the final analysis, it affects the energy production of the wind turbine.

Rubén’s project is entitled “Delamination of Composites Blades Structures using the Cohesive Zone Approach” and there is no doubt that he is passionate about his work:
“The most interesting part for me is to reach an understanding of materials behavior and dealing with something that no one else has done before,” says an enthusiastic Rubén Anchondo. He can do so in the Section for Structural design and testing at DTU Wind Energy. Under the guidance of Head of Section Kim Branner and in collaboration with several of the department's skilled researchers in the field, he is working on understanding what exactly happens when the composite structures in wind turbine blades break. “The long-term objective is to be able to predict damage to wind turbine blades,” says Rubén.

Working abroad
At the moment Rubén does not have his way on DTU's campus on Risø, though. Instead he is on a stay abroad in Girona, Spain and affiliated with the University of Girona and the so-called ”AMADE” group. The stay lasts three months and is part of the PhD education. Rubén explains: “The purpose of my stay in Spain is to implement a numerical method which in coordination with Bent Sørensen and Stergios Goutianos, both DTU Wind Energy, I have developed. The AMADE group, and in particular the contact person in AMADE, Albert Turon, are experts in the implementation of such methods.”

Travelling in connection with the study is not unfamiliar to Rubén. In fact, travelling have been a condition for him most of his professional life: he got his bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering, partly from his native Mexico in the province of Chihuahua and partly from the US state of New Mexico. He then completed his master's at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and because he was very fond of the culture of Europe, he applied for an Erasmus Mundus scholarship and got it. Consequently, stays in Sweden, with internships in Greece and France, became possible. Since 2019, Denmark has housed the enterprising PhD student.

How will your research be used in practice?
“In the future, my research might be used everywhere in industries where laminated composite structures are used. And wind turbine blade materials where composites are included, too,” says Rubén.

Why did you choose to do your PhD at DTU Wind Energy?
Rubén explains that there are a number of reasons why he chose DTU Wind Energy: “The most important reason is probably my personal motivation because I wanted to work for a sustainable society, and wind energy is important”. In addition, Rubén thinks that DTU is doing well. “DTU is a professional university with large human and technical capital,” says Rubén.

How do you experience the culture at DTU Wind Energy?
“Here in Scandinavia you are very direct! Such culture makes it easy to contact people. And there is almost no hierarchy,” says Rubén. The flat hierarchy also means that he experiences that he as a PhD student is respected. It probably has to do with the freedom and responsibility which he feels he has. Although he has to apply for funding for the PhD project, and this may have an impact on the choice of research area, he still experiences a great deal of research freedom, he says.

Do you have any good advice for future PhD students at the department?
Rubén would advise DTU's new PhD students to “look around” within the subject area during the study to find references to the subject.
Rubén also says about the PhD process: “Do not expect everything to go according to the plan. Much can change along the way. It is very complex to write a PhD and you will have to make some difficult decisions. You have to be aware of that before you start,” Rubén concludes.
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