Slip ring dependability gives small-wind builder a big advantage

Daniel Hanawalt / Business Development Manager / UEA

The role slip rings play in wind turbines depends on their size. In large wind turbines, slip rings transfer power to motors in the blades and data back to the hub from sensors in the blades. This lets the blades pitch into and out of the wind to control the speed of rotation.

The XZERES model 442SR has a rated output of 10.4 kW at 25 mph. It uses the slip ring to transfer power and control signals through the yaw axis and down-tower to power electronics. The alternator, a 3-phase neodymium permanent magnet design, mounts in the tower and is spun by the 23.6-ft diameter rotor. The company also manufactures 3.7 and 50-kW models.

In small wind turbines, such as those with outputs from 3 to 50 kW, cables from the generator located in the nacelle at the top of the tower, typically carry power down to a transformer at the base of the turbine. As the nacelle of the turbine rotates into the wind, a slip ring prevents the cables from twisting into a knot.

XZERES, one of the small turbine manufacturers, sells its products to the global market. When the company’s engineers designed its 10 kW wind turbine, they needed to set it apart in a crowded marketplace. The dependability of slip rings manufactured by UEA has helped its staff do just that. “UEA’s slip rings have been very dependable and have required very little maintenance,” said Ben Fleskes, engineering manager for the turbine manufacturer.

The CAD model of a slip ring from UAE is typical of the physical model used in the XZERES turbine.

In the XZERES model 442SR, slip rings transfer power and control signals through the yaw axis. “The slip ring is critical in transferring power and signal from our generator to our power conditioning system,” he said. “Because this is an up-tower component, a robust design supported by high-quality manufacturing is critical to our company,” said Fleskes.

“The experts at UEA work with us to create custom applications using robust and reliable brush assemblies, and it’s always a pleasure to work with them,” he said.

XZERES is headquartered in Wilsonville, Oregon, and has offices in the UK and Japan. It employs 40 people and exports 90% of its turbines. UEA is based in Waverly, Iowa. It manufactures dependable components that leading OEMs rely on, including custom slip rings, cable reels, shift controls, and hydraulic swivels.

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