New and exciting project at CWD: BearTec

  Flowchart BearTec project Copyright: © CWD
  Test benches BearTec project at CWD Copyright: © CWD

Early failures of roller bearings in gearboxes of wind turbines (WT) lead to reduced plant availability and cost-intensive maintenance work. Although established methods exist for qualifying rolling bearings against such failures, they are not sufficient in practice. The BearTec research project aims to develop reliable test methods for the qualification of rolling bearings against early failures and thus increase the reliability of WTs.

As part of the WEA.Lagerzentrum.NRW project, two globally unique prototype test rigs have been developed, which allow the examination of full-scale roller bearings for gearboxes of WTs. The developed Bearing Robustness Test (BRT) allows the controlled application of realistic and damage-critical mechanical loads to the rolling bearings. The project showed that mechanical loads alone are not sufficient to reproduce early failures of rolling bearings. In addition to the mechanical loads, electrical and chemical stresses occur in real operation. The goal of the follow-up project BearTec is therefore an extended BRT to include electrical and chemical loading.

In the initial step of the BearTec project, the electrical and chemical loads impacting the roller bearings will be identified and quantified. The existing BRT is then extended to include these loads and configured individually for each bearing point. In addition, the test rigs are modified in order to be able to realistically reproduce the determined loads. The extended BRT (BRTplus) aims to reproduce damage to rolling bearings made out of standard material and to determine limit values for various influencing factors. Based on these thresholds, the robustness of both standard bearings and optimized bearings (e.g., burnished bearings) can be evaluated.

The main objective of the project is to provide an experimentally validated test procedure for the qualification of roller bearings. The developed BRTplus enables bearing manufacturers to evaluate roller bearings for use in WT gearboxes with regard to possible early failures and, if necessary, to develop more robust bearings in a targeted manner.