Tribology Challenges in the Wind Industry

Wind turbines contain many moving components which are prone to premature failure without the proper treatment. Tribology plays a big part in that. In this article, we explore tribology trends, challenges and solutions within the wind industry.

Table of Contents

Tribology Challenges in the Wind Industry

The Wind Sector’s Current Situation

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing renewable energy sectors, as well as a key industry for sustainable development. As a result, it has become an important sector for financial investments from across the world, which are facilitating more innovative maintenance and repair processes and high-performance technology.

Through increased efforts to alleviate climate change, power generation through renewable energy is set to grow 40% by 2022, according to the International Energy Agency. This advancement is already on track in Europe, with a 6.1% growth demonstrated in 2020 alongside 111 GW wind turbines predicted for installation within the coming years. This will increase the total cumulative installed capacity of wind energy in Europe to over 300 GW by the end of 2030.

With that said, there’s still work to be done to reach these goals; reduce operation and maintenance costs and improve durability.

Tribological Challenges and Trends in the Wind Industry

Tribology relates to interacting surfaces in motion. This, as it happens, is one of the main challenges in the wind industry, as premature failure of major components as a result of tribological failures, is one of the most common issues that occur in wind farm operations.

Tribological elements within wind turbines include bearings (found in the main shaft, the pitch, the yaw, the generator and the gearbox) and threaded connections (found in the tower and body connecting different elements together).

Tribological failures often happen due to uneven distribution of loads and extreme environmental forces, such as wind speed. These factors can lead to excessive mechanical stress, load, temperature and pressure on tribological elements, causing premature failure. As a result, failures such as scuffing, micropitting, white etching cracks and fretting corrosion are commonly found in tribological failures.

Solutions to Tribological Challenges in the Wind Industry

The most common reason for tribological failures within wind turbines is improper lubrication.

Lubrication serves an essential purpose in wind turbines; providing corrosion resistance, friction protection, even operational loading, thermal regulation, improved efficiency and extended durability to major tribological components. In this way, quality lubricants such as Molykote Smart Lubrication allow manufacturers to eliminate relubrication to reduce maintenance; improve operational efficiency and increase power output through wind turbines. Lubrication of tribological components especially leads to the prolonged life of generator and gearbox parts.

This is why here at Antala we provide high-performance lubricants for the wind industry designed to optimise your wind services. Discover our top wind turbine maintenance and repair processes to view our recommended list of lubricants and start improving your wind operations today.

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