What bearings are used in wind turbines?

The wind energy industry is revolutionising power generation by moving away from non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels, towards a greener future.

As many wind turbines begin to reach the end of their warranty periods, it is essential that momentum is continued in keeping turbines properly maintained.

In this article, we discover the types of bearings used in each section of a wind turbine, along with the options available to enhance service life.  

Pitch and yaw

Slewing ring bearings are generally used in the pitch and yaw locations of a wind turbine, to enable the blades to rotate smoothly. These bearings can support extremely heavy loads at slow speeds. They allow the transmission of both axial and radial forces, as well as accommodating tilting moments.

Main shaft

Roller bearings are commonly found in the main shaft of a wind turbine. Spherical roller bearings are often used in this area thanks to their ability to handle angular misalignment. Cylindrical roller bearings are also frequently used in conjunction with tapered roller bearings to provide superior combination load capacity.

Gearbox

The gearbox of a wind turbine is often subjected to high speeds, as well as challenging atmospheric conditions. There are numerous different bearing designs that can be found in the gearbox of a wind turbine, but generally a combination of cylindrical roller bearings, tapered roller bearings and ball bearings are used, depending on the speed and load requirements.

Promoting service life

There are many options available to support wind turbine bearings in achieving their maximum service life. For example, a range of bearings are increasingly being manufactured with a black oxide coating to protect components from the harsh atmospheric conditions that wind turbines are exposed to.

Condition monitoring tools such as SKF WindCon have been specially designed to monitor the internal components of wind turbines, predicting failure before it occurs. This allows planned maintenance to be scheduled, avoiding the costs of emergency repairs.

A wide range of lubrication products is available from Petro-Canada which is ideal for use in the wind energy industry. This helps to keep the coefficient of friction within the bearings to a minimum, reducing wear and protecting the internal components from corrosion and contamination.

For more information about bearing selection for wind turbines, contact your knowledgeable local sales team today.

Related articles