The wind-power industry is continually improving turbine components and operation for greater uptime and power generation. One key to reliable operation is quality gear oil and filers. Here are a few new products and technologies.
Extended turbine uptime
Wind-turbine gearbox operations and management are demanding. The equipment must withstand extremes of hot or cold climates, water, dust, and fluctuating wind speeds. These severe conditions and varying loads can cause damage to the gearboxes, including micropitting or surface wear.
To extend operational uptime and reduce unplanned breakdown, Shell Lubricants has launched a new synthetic gearbox oil for turbines in the U.S. market. Shell Omala S5 Wind offers enhanced protection of bearings and gearboxes, with a 10-year warranty.
“These sector-specific applications have particular demands and can carry a high penalty for poor reliability, especially if they are in remote locations,” said Warren Cates, Senior Research Scientist, Shell.
Cates added: “The robust wear and corrosion protection Shell Omala S5 Wind offers can help extend the service life of the gearboxes, while innovative foam control and optimal filterability also help to reduce gear and bearing damage.”
A carbon-neutral formulation
Bearing failures account for 70% of gearbox failures, according to one report. One way to manage this problem is with proper lubricant use. Castrol offers the world’s first carbon-neutral gear oil for wind turbines: Optigear. The formulation has been proven to reduce friction, actively resist wear, and extend bearing life by up to 50%.
One of several blends, Castrol Optigear Synthetic CT320 is a premium synthetic oil for turbine gears operating in wide temperature range and under high loads. It offers the lowest water content in the field, based on sample data, and is formulated for easy conversion from other competitive oils to deliver reliable surface protection. Optigear’s advanced “ash-less technology” can run reliably in cooler conditions (up to 8° C | 46° F), providing consistent wear protection for up to eight years of oil life.
Better bearing care
AMSOIL offers a new Main Bearing Grease (MBG) and Flushing Oil (MBF). MGB is a unique combination of synthetic PAO base oils, lithium complex thickeners, and carefully chosen additives that help prevent wear, rust, and hardening. It works well in large, slow-speed bearings with high loads.
MBF is designed for use with industry-approved industrial equipment flushing procedures expressly requiring low-viscosity oil. Its natural solvency helps break down contaminants, while its low viscosity assists with removing particles.
A portable oil-analysis kit
Gearbox oil contamination is inevitable at some point, which is why early detection in wind turbines is critical to avoid potentially catastrophic machine failures. An oil analysis assesses the quality of the oil and checks for contaminants. However, conventional methods have proven deficient in many ways.
For example, taking a sample for laboratory analysis is time-consuming and inconvenient from the remote location of most wind farms. Laser counters used in particle counting are also less than ideal at recognizing air bubbles and eliminating them from the counts.
Particle Pal Pro is a new, tablet-based portable oil-analysis kit that provides wind techs almost immediate insight into the state of turbine gear oil. It recognizes the shape of particle contaminants and categorizes them to offer users a broad count spectrum and root-cause analysis.
The kit’s digital-imaging counter (combined with water content and oil condition sensors) helps engineers quickly understand the current health and remaining life of their oils.
Integrated oil monitoring
Regular gear oil sampling is standard in the wind industry to ensure cleanliness and optimal gearbox operation. However, two companies are eliminating this time-consuming process by offering the industry’s first gearbox-integrated, oil-monitoring system. This means an end to periodic oil sampling.
Condition-monitoring company, Poseidon Systems, is supplying the oil-monitoring equipment and services for all Gearbox Express re-manufactured gearboxes. The new integrated systems will include Poseidon’s Trident QW3100 oil-quality and water contamination monitor, DM4500 metallic wear debris monitors, and Trident AP2200 data collector and communication device.
“It is our belief that metallic debris monitoring provides the earliest, most reliable, most cost-effective gearbox condition-monitoring solution,” said Bruce Neumiller, CEO of Gearbox Express.
Additionally, Poseidon Live will provide online data analysis and remote monitoring to provide wind operators real-time fault progression monitoring. “Online oil quality and debris monitoring offers our customer’s many benefits, not the least of which is the ability to reduce if not completely eliminate the need to perform periodic oil sampling,” said Mark Redding, president of Poseidon Systems.