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Solving Turbine Gearbox Failure With High Performance Lubricants

In this article, we explore how turbine gearbox failures happen and the best lubrication solutions for preventing and treating them.

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turbine gearbox failure

Turbine Gearbox Failure

Gearboxes are essential components in wind turbines that connect the low-speed shaft to the high-speed shaft and increase the rotational speed to what is required by the turbine generator to produce electricity at the most efficient rate.

Annually, around 1200 turbine gearbox failures take place, both minor and major; leading to unexpected downtimes, power outages, disrupted processes, extra labour costs and loss of revenue.

The gearbox accounts for roughly 13% of the overall cost of the turbine, making it an expensive component to replace. As a result, it is crucial that wind turbine manufacturers and operators are equipped with the top solutions for effectively carrying out preventative maintenance and efficient repairs to reduce the effects of gearbox failure.

The global wind turbine gearbox market is expected to grow by £2.7 billion from 2020-2024. This growth is mainly accounted for by the increasing demand for offshore wind energy installations and the increased drive to net-zero.

Common Reasons for Turbine Gearbox Failure

Bearings

Approximately 70% of gearbox failures take place due to problems with bearings. These failures often arise from dirty or water-contaminated lubrication, improper bearing settings and significant temperature fluctuations within the bearings.

When it comes to bearing replacement or maintenance, issues are often experienced due to the improper lubricant or bearing being chosen with an aim to lower costs or improve the ease of procurement. When this happens, costly operations are put at risk. To achieve premium performance, it is essential to find the perfect bearing and lubricant combination.

Gears

Approximately 26% of gearbox failures take place due to problems with the gears themselves. Gear failures most commonly arise from inadequate lubrication, contamination, installation errors, overload and handling errors.

Other Reasons

Other reasons for gearbox failures range from improper or infrequent maintenance, transient loads leading to sudden accelerations, load-zone reversals and extreme wind levels; all of which serve as a threat to optimising the productivity of operations.

Lubricants for Turbine Gearbox Failure

Manufacturers can avoid costly and unexpected downtimes through the use of high-performance lubricants.

Effective lubrication enables:

  • Reduced friction and wear
  • Improved efficiency
  • Extended component life
  • Corrosion and oxidation protection
  • Heat dissipation
  • Keeping the moving parts clean by transporting contaminants away
  • Safer equipment and working conditions
  • Reduced maintenance costs

Molykote 1000 is a solid lubricant paste that can be used to lubricate threaded connections within wind turbine gearboxes. It provides a high load capacity and excellent protection against corrosion, making it ideal for offshore applications.

Molykote D-321 R is a dry, air-curing lubricant that is suitable for the permanent lubrication of sliding guides and threaded connections within wind turbines. It is designed for metal-metal combinations with slow to medium-fast movements and high loads.

Molykote G-Rapid Plus is a solid lubricant paste that can be used to lubricate gear trains, threaded shafts, helical gears and other metal components. It prevents seizure, scratching and the formation of contact corrosion.

Molykote P-40 is a lubricant paste that can be used to lubricate open gears and bearings. It is suitable particularly for applications in corrosive, high-water or highly humid environments.

Molykote G-0102 is a high-load bearing grease suitable for applications in the presence of water and moisture. It provides excellent resistance to water, is thermally stable and provides good anti-corrosion properties.

For more specialist lubricant guidance, discover our guides on avoiding lubricant contamination, choosing the right bearing lubricants and wind turbine maintenance with adhesives.

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If you have a problem with industrial adhesives, sealants, or electronic protection products and require advice, you can contact our technical support service. Our team can help you to optimize your processes and applications.

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