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Tribological Failures of Wind Turbine Bearings

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Although wind turbine bearings are designed to operate 18-20 years, in the recent years premature failure among these bearings has caused this life to reduce to as low as a few months to a year. One of the leading causes

Although wind turbine bearings are designed to operate 18-20 years, in the recent years premature failure among these bearings has caused this life to reduce to as low as a few months to a year. One of the leading causes of premature failure called white structure flaking is a mechanism that was first cited in literature decades ago but not much is understood about it even today. The cause of this mode of failure results from the initiation of white etched cracks (WECs). In this report, different failure mechanisms, especially premature failure mechanisms that were tested and analyzed are demonstrated as a pathway to understanding this phenomenon. Through the use of various tribometers, samples were tested in diverse and extreme conditions in order to study the effect of these different operational conditions on the specimen. Analysis of the tested samples allowed for a comparison of the microstructure alterations in the tested samples to the field bearings affected by WSF.

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2015-05