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Technical Paper

BEARING SELECTION TECHNIQUES AS APPLIED


TO MAINSHAFT DIRECT AND HYBRID DRIVES
FOR WIND TURBINES
Matthew B. Turi and Christopher S. Marks
INTRODUCTION bearing arrangements available based on the
As wind turbine manufactures gain turbine drive train architecture.
experience with turbine and gearbox designs,
they are elevating the need to improve the Tapered
Drive Tapered Tapered 3 & 4 Point
Double +
reliability of drivetrains while employing an Type Single Double
Cylindrical
SRB
architecture that optimizes the cost structure Hybrid
of turbines and towers.
Direct
Modular
Wind turbine generator designs have
historically utilized a modular architecture Hybrid Drive
(Fig. 1a, 1b). Several departures from that Direct Drive
traditional design approach aim to improve Modular Drive
turbine reliability and cost. Two of the most
MW
common architectures include direct drive 1 2.5 5 10
and mid-speed hybrid drive turbines. Direct
drives tend to result in more upfront cost, but Table 1. Wind turbine main shaft bearing
can reduce complexity by eliminating the mounting arrangement – general solutions.
gearbox. Hybrid drives also focus on
simplifying the gearbox and generally result Previous technical articles have addressed
in lower tower top mass. concerns when using spherical roller
bearings (SRB) in main shaft fixed positions
as compared to preloaded double-row
tapered roller bearings (TRB). Due to elevated
axial loading and inability to optimize in
preload, use of SRBs may result in unseating
effects, abnormal load distribution between
rows, roller skewing, roller retainer distress,
excessive heat generation and roller
smearing.

Fig 1a. Modular drive train configuration.


Source: NREL/TP-500-41160

A key consideration in turbine design is the


selection of the bearing system used to
support the main shaft. Options include a
single bearing position system utilizing a
two-row bearing or a multiple bearing
position system. For each position, the
bearing type and configuration must also be
determined. For larger turbines, viable
Fig 1b. Modular drive train configuration.
alternatives include combinations of
spherical, cylindrical and tapered roller
Preloaded TRBs allow for improved system
bearings. Table 1 lists various main shaft stiffness and are available with modified

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internal geometry to operate effectively in
high misalignment conditions. In addition,
cylindrical roller bearings (CRB) work well
with TRBs, providing additional radial
capacity and stiffness that allows for a more
power-dense arrangement. These and other
advantages of TRB and CRB arrangements
make them a better solution for multi-
megawatt turbines.

This paper will expand on bearing selection


requirements for main shaft positions in
direct drive and hybrid drive turbines. Fig 2. Typical direct drive generator
wind turbine design with a two-row
DIRECT AND HYBRID DRIVES TRB.
There is significant work within the industry
Hybrid drives use mid-speed generators and
to understand real operating loads on
will employ one or two planetary stages to
turbines, gears, shafts and bearings in the
achieve generator speeds between those
field. Standards have been developed to help
typically found with direct drives (low speed)
the industry design more reliable turbines
and modular designs (high speed). These
with improved performance, but there is still
designs can significantly reduce tower top
room for further improvement.
mass as a ratio to power output. Also, these
designs target a good balance between
While work continues in understanding
gearbox and generator size to achieve
environmental conditions and a turbine’s
optimal use of space atop the tower.
reaction to those conditions, there are new
designs focused on making a system more
robust against unknown challenges and/or
eliminating the sources of reliability
problems.

A direct drive turbine that eliminates the


gearbox entirely has to meet certain
considerations. To be able to generate
adequate power at low speeds, generators
tend to become larger, heavier and more
expensive. Typical bearing solutions have
been three-row CRB designs with two axially
positioned rows in light preload, and one
radial row mounted in clearance. Unitized Fig 3. Hybrid drivetrain example with
two-row TRBs are also a viable and two-row TRB mainshaft.
advantageous solution (see Fig. 2). Source: DNV-GEC

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DIRECT/HYBRID DRIVE each row and prevent bearing lubrication
CONSIDERATIONS starvation due to flow blockages.
Fig. 4 shows loads in a coordinate axis
imposed by the rotor blades on a typical Whether to supply a bearing with a full
wind turbine. complement of rollers or to include a cage or
separator is another critical design decision.
Full complement designs will use more
rollers in the same design space, thus will
have increased load carrying capacity. Rollers
will contact each other at the roller body, so
appropriate surface treatment may be
necessary to avoid surface damage during
use. For full complement designs, surface
treatments can be incorporated to provide
surface hardness improvements and ultra-
low surface finishes allowing improved
lubricant film thickness generation at
relatively low speeds. The type and method
of lubrication will also influence the decisions
on applying a full complement bearing.
Fig 4. Loads and working system of Incorporating a cage on ultra-large bearings
axis. may provide benefit in roller guidance,
lubricant distribution and elimination of roller
Some challenges faced by direct drive body contact.
turbine manufacturers and bearing suppliers
in managing the loads and stresses in a Direct drive main shaft bearings also need to
compact space. Stress internal to the bearing have properly designed features that allow
is a function of the weight of the hub/blade for efficient handling and installation. The
and rotor assembly, along with external size of the bearings can create logistical
loading during operation. Therefore, for any challenges and bearings need to be installed
type of wind turbine architecture, it is critical properly to avoid issues that can cause long-
that wind turbine manufacturers provide an term performance problems. Some bearings
accurate assessment of field loading to the are designed to have bolt-on features for
bearing manufacturer. Inadequate inputs attachment to the nacelle structure, hub and
into bearing life models may result in rotor assemblies. Without an external shaft
improper bearing life analysis and potentially or a press fit into the housing, bolt designs
lead to premature bearing damage. are critical to maintain bearing clamp, and in
some cases, alignment of bearing races.
Lubrication of critical race/roller surfaces is
another issue requiring special design Bearing setting is another critical aspect for
consideration. Most bearings in the direct proper performance. In a tapered non-
drive mainshaft market are grease lubricated. adjustable (TNA) design, bearing suppliers
Care needs to be taken to select the proper can carefully control the designed setting. In
grease that will not migrate away from fact, the only factor outside the bearing
roller/race surfaces and lead to seal leakage. supplier’s control that can impact the
This may need to be balanced with the ability operating setting is external clamp load.
of lubrication control systems to work with
the specified grease. These systems should For a turbine mainshaft application with two
be designed to ensure proper lubrication of separate rows, setting is the responsibility of
the turbine assembler. Several methods for
achieving a desired final setting may be
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employed, but bearing size needs to be
considered for several reasons, including 800

proper measurement of initial parameters, 600


My

accurate assessment of adjustments needed Mz

to achieve final setting and determining the 400

final assembly effect on setting. We will 200

cover the importance of bearing lateral Fx


0
setting later in this paper. Fy

-200

BEARING SELECTION FOR DIRECT -400


Fz

0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5


DRIVES AND HYBRID MAINSHAFTS Time (s)

BEARING FATIGUE DUTY CYCLE Fig. 5. Five second snapshot of data from
The bearing fatigue duty cycle received from design program.
the customer can have a significant influence
In order to develop a duty cycle from time
on the size and geometry of the mainshaft
series data for these load conditions, two
bearing designs. A concern is that adding
methods can be utilized to generate duty
conservatism by oversimplification of the
cycles – an independent or dependent
duty cycle will result in a negative cost
reduction. In an independent reduction, each
structure. Some manufacturers use
load is binned separately for a specific RPM
hundreds of conditions in the duty cycle.
bin. A load histogram can then be generated
Others may use tens or only a single
for each load using the previously discussed
condition in the duty cycle.
technique. An equivalent load for each
resulting load histogram can then be
Duty cycles usually are generated using
calculated. Finally, a duty cycle can be
design programs to model the wind turbine
constructed with the corresponding
system, typically with an output at 20-Hz.
combinations of independent equivalent
The high frequency of data provides a vast
loads.
number of snap shots of the system, even for
short time intervals. All this data must be
While an independent duty cycle is simpler to
sorted and binned in useful categories, using
create it may not always maintain the proper
the arithmetic average bin value, for fatigue
relationship between specific load
analysis. A five second excerpt of data from
combinations. This type of load case may
the graph has been added in to show the
result in an over-predicted bearing life due to
variation of the data. Variation in this short
lost load/moment relationships. This is
time is graphically shown in Fig. 5. The
where a dependent duty cycle reduction can
complete data is then sorted into bins and
be beneficial. In a dependent reduction,
the time durations in each bin is summed to
loads are binned dependently based on
determine the percent of time each condition
importance of effect to bearing life, where
contributes to the duty cycle.
low importance loads can generally be
equated to as few or as little as one
equivalent load. Bin size should be
determined methodically for the speed and
loads by understanding the effect on the
bearing system. The following
recommended order of importance of the
data for proper bearing analysis can be
utilized in either reduction case:

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1. RPM (due to effects on the development bearing sizing but would not model actual
of the lubrication film thickness). operating conditions and many assumptions
2. Pitch Moment, My made for catalog calculations do not hold
3. Yaw Moment, Mz true in real world operation.
4. Radial Load, Fz
5. Axial Load, Fx Bearing companies have developed in-house
6. Radial Load, Fy analytical programs to better evaluate the
environmental effects influencing bearing
Once the low priority load bins have been life. It is suggested that wind turbine
defined, higher importance load data can manufacturers contact their approved
then be binned in subset histograms of bearing suppliers for advanced bearing life
appropriate size for each lower importance analysis. There are several life adjustment
load bin. A duty cycle can be constructed factors included in advanced bearing analysis
from the dependent relationships and in Syber, a proprietary finite element based
analyzed with an advanced bearing fatigue computer simulation software of the author's
calculation program with Miner’s Rule to company. In addition to load and speed,
determine the bearing L10a fatigue life. Fig. 6 other major life influencers are:
below illustrates a generic relationship
structure based on the author’s 1. Load zone (bearing fits and setting)
recommended importance of reduction. 2. Thermal effects (operating
temperatures, thermal gradients, lube
Typically, bearing manufacturers are sump temperatures)
provided the binned duty cycle from wind 3. Lubrication effects
turbine OEMs and/or gearbox manufacturers. 4. Misalignment/race stress (functions of
Equally important as the correct time series housing and shaft stiffnesses – radial,
data is the method of the reduction. While axial, and tilting)
each manufacturer can have its own method 5. Fatigue propagation rate
for the reduction of time series data, it is also 6. Bearing geometry factors
important that they understand the
significance of the reduction methods on the BEARING LOAD ZONE
load/moment relationship on predicted Load zone is an angular measurement of the
bearing life. load distribution in a bearing and is a direct
indication of how many rollers per row share
Fy the applied load. There are a vast list of
Fx
factors that determine what the operating
load zone is, including initial lateral setting,
Fz,1 Fz,2 Fz,3 applied load, operating temperature,
structural properties of the shaft/housing and

Mz,1 Mz,2 Mz,3


bearing fitting practice.
My,1My,2My,3My,4 My,1My,2My,3My,4 My,1My,2My,3My,4
The following diagram (Fig. 7) shows a
Fig. 6. Sample dependent duty cycle graphical representation of load zone, with
relationship structure. the blue arrow indicating an approximate 250
degree load zone):
BEARING LIFE CALCULATIONS
Bearing life calculations have evolved from
basic catalog calculations (load and speed
effects) to very sophisticated calculations that
include many different environmental
conditions that impact life. The catalog
calculations were sufficient in very basic
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increased significantly to dramatically
increase the load zone above 110 degrees.

Fig. 9 shows a typical bearing life versus


lateral setting curve. Peak life tends to be in
slight preload where optimum roller sharing
occurs. When analyzing bearing life for a
two-row arrangement, it is more appropriate
to focus on system life, which is a measure of
the life associated with both bearings and
accounts for the likelihood of either bearing
reaching a failure point. This can be seen in
Fig 7. Load zone. the ‘system life’ curve for a given condition in
Fig. 10.
Load zone influence on catalog life is
determined through the use of a life In a two-row TRB system, a net thrust force
multiplication factor. The factor is 1 at 180 will exist that will cause one row to be seated
degree load zone. The factor increases in while the other is unseated. This
slight preload. Since TRBs are usually directionally-dependant net thrust force is the
mounted in pairs, their individual load zones sum of the external thrust applied to the
are interdependent. Thus, system life system plus the tow-induced thrusts
depends on the operating setting in each row generated by radial loads on the TRBs. By
under a given condition. In multiple condition design, a radial load applied to a TRB will
duty cycles, the load zone can change create thrust forces with magnitudes relative
dramatically and will affect bearing to the outer raceway angle. Fig. 10 includes
performance. This factor takes into account individual row life for seated and setup
the change in roller loading on bearing life. (unseated) bearings.

Unseated Bearing Load Zone vs. Setting

400

350
Low Load
300

250

200
Medium Load
150

100
High Load
50

0
-0.300 -0.250 -0.200 -0.150 -0.100 -0.050 0.000

Setting (mm)

Fig. 8. Varied loads and setting effect on


load zone.

Figure 8 shows that a reduction in bearing


preload on the unseated bearing will lead to
a reduction in load zone for a range of Fig. 9. Life versus bearing setting.
conditions. One might conclude to increase
the dimensional preload beyond 0.30 mm to
ensure both rows are well-seated under the
heaviest loads, the preload would need
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SRB row (upwind) SRB row (downwind)
Fig 12. Load zone in SRB.

Optimization of bearing load zones in wind


turbine applications has several benefits.
Loads can be balanced among available
rollers to reduce loads on the maximum
Fig 10. Life versus bearing setting – two-
loaded roller in certain conditions. When a
row bearing system.
system is not optimized or uses bearing
types which don’t allow for the load zone
A previous technical paper compared two-
control similar to TRBs, fewer rollers may be
row TRBs versus two-row SRBs in the fixed
carrying the bulk of the load.
position of a wind turbine mainshaft. One
focus of the paper was load zone and the
Keeping rollers engaged with race surfaces
impact on bearing life.
also prevents premature damage from
skidding/smearing. This happens when
A two-row TRB solution can be installed with
rollers move through the unloaded zone and
initial preload in the system. Controlled
are being pushed by the cage, rather than
preload is advantageous from the standpoint
being driven by traction from the rotating
of optimizing bearing life through load
raceway. Roller surface and race surface will
sharing between rollers for a given duty
then see contact when the roller moves back
cycle. Fig. 11 includes examples of TRBs in a
through the loaded zone. This contact will
tapered double inner (TDI) arrangement for a
cause adhesive wear, and also increased
given load condition.
tensile shear forces beneath the surface of
the race/rollers. The tensile shear forces can
lead to formation of axial cracks.

The basic design of a TRB, plus the ability to


optimize setting in preload, will work to avoid
skidding/smearing damage and also help
balance load between the rollers of both
rows.

TRB row (upwind) TRB row (downwind)


Fig. 11. Load zone in typical TRB.

A comparable spherical two-row bearing (Fig.


12) will tend to have one row-carrying load
while the other may be unloaded. This is
mainly due to the inability to set the bearing
in initial preload. Lack of roller load sharing
could cause reduced fatigue life in service.

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THERMAL EFFECTS
Temperature can impact bearing life in
multiple ways, all of which must be taken
into account when trying to perform
advanced life calculations. Areas in which
thermal gradients can impact are listed
below:
 Lubricant viscosity
 Operating setting
Fig. 13. Two TS wide spread mainshaft.
 Bearing arrangement
 Dissimilar material thermal expansion

Because lubricant viscosity is a function of


temperature it is important to properly assess
operating temperatures in order to predict
proper film thickness.

Thermal gradients between shaft and


housings impact axial shaft
expansion/contraction which can result in a
change of setting between two bearings. In
addition to axial shaft expansion, radial
expansion of the bearing raceways can occur.
Because TRB raceways are designed on an
angle, a radial expansion of the raceway can
be equated to an axial movement of the Fig. 14. Life versus setting with and
raceway. Both of these thermal effects will without thermal gradients.
ultimately impact the operating setting of the
bearing. In a case where two bearings are Finally, differences in material properties can
wide spread, the change in relative shaft and mean larger relative displacements for even
housing length due to thermal expansion, L, small thermal gradients when compared to
is large compared to a close couple TDO or similar materials, making thermal effects
TDI style bearing assembly. even more important to consider for proper
advanced life prediction.
In order to illustrate the effects of thermal
gradients, an example with a two tapered-
single roller bearing (2 TS) arrangement for a LUBRICATION
wind turbine main shaft (Fig. 13) was For direct drive mainshaft bearings, grease is
analyzed with and without thermal gradients a very viable solution due to low operating
between the shaft, housing and bearing speeds. Although grease may result in a
raceways. From the subsequent life plot (Fig. thinner film thickness, it is the preferred
14) it is evident at maximum setting there is a option for direct drive applications. It will
significant difference in predicted life, which have a lower chance of leakage, will not
may not meet the acceptable life migrate as easily, and will exclude
requirements for the application. contaminants more effectively than oil.

Common considerations for the grease


selection process include:
 Higher viscosity (ISOVG 460 or 320) is
better for maintaining good film strength

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 Synthetic base oil with high viscosity
index (VI) will provide better lubrication Basic stress profiles are shown below in Fig.
over a larger temperature range 16. Stresses are higher near the center due
 Excellent water, rust, oxidation, and to race and roller crowning. Relatively high
corrosion resistance is important for loading can cause load truncation at the ends
extended grease life of the contact area and misalignment can
 Low-temperature operation with adequate cause stress imbalance along the raceway.
pumping may be required in some The final graph shows typical stress plots for
applications edge stress conditions.

Lubrication control systems are a way to


ensure effective re-lubrication over time and
to make sure each bearing row is receiving
grease. Newer systems have features that
will inject grease with two separate ports,
directing lubrication at each bearing row.
Also, bearings can be designed with features
that take a more active role in removing used
grease from the bearing rather than relying
on back pressure to force it out. This can also
keep internal pressures lower and may help
increase expected life of contacting lip seals. Fig. 16. Raceway stresses.

For catalog calculations, the impact on


MISALIGNMENT/RACEWAY STRESSES bearing life is handled through the use of a
life factor and this factor is generally 1 for a
misalignment of 0.0005 radians. It is greater
than 1 for lower levels of misalignment and
will reduce life when misalignment is greater
than 0.0005 radians.

RELIABILITY REQUIREMENTS
There have been many bearing life
expectations from various customers. Some
have used 150,000 hours, while others have
used 175,000 or even 200,000 hours life
calculation for which 90 percent of the
Fig 15. Misalignment.
population will reliably survive (e.g. L10).

Bearing life can be negatively affected by The required calculated L10 for a 20-year
excessive shaft and housing misalignment. design life would improve with increasing
High loads and overturning moments can reliability requirements. As seen in Table 2,
cause this to happen. Misalignment will taken from ISO281:2007, in order to obtain
increase edge stresses in roller bearings and the required reliability of 150,000 hours at a
could cause early damage in the bearing in higher reliability level, the calculated L10 will
the form of geometric stress concentration increase. Also shown in Table 1 are the
(GSC) spalling. TRBs and CRBs can be required L10 for a 30-year design. Another
designed with special profiles to alleviate way to state this would be that the reliability
edge stresses under given conditions. This is factor, a1, is multiplied by the L10 to attain the
another reason for the importance of an Ln life of 175,000 or 263,000 hours for the 20-
accurate assessment of wind turbine loading. or 30-year calculated life, respectively.
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using a housing or shaft to transfer the
Life Reliabilit a1 20-year 30-year load.
y L10 Life L10 Life  Brinelling and false brinelling:
L10 90 1 175,000 263,000 Brinelling results from permanent
L5 95 0.64 274,000 411,000 deformation or yielding in the part. False
L3 97 0.47 376,000 564,000 brinelling is commonly seen when the
L2 98 0.37 478,000 717,000 rollers are not rotating and oscillate back
L1 99 0.25 706,000 1,060,00 and forth along the direction of the
0 rotational axis of the roller.

Table 2. L10 life requirement for various DESIGN OF THE TRB


reliabilities. TRBs achieve true rolling motion by being
designed on apex as in Fig. 17. Lines drawn
It is important to understand that the extending the inner and outer raceways
reliability requirements are defined for failure towards the centerline will intersect on the
by subsurface fatigue spalling. There are centerline. The roller’s size (body length,
other types of bearing failures that may occur small- and large-end diameters, and body
in the application that are not considered included angle) along with its relative
using traditional fatigue durability analysis. position to the centerline, will define the
These include, but are not limited to: bearing series. A single roller could be used
 Scoring: Scoring may occur on a roller in many different series by adjusting its
bearing if the end of the roller contacts an angular position relative to the centerline.
improperly lubricated flange or if a high This allows for optimization of the radial and
rib contact stress or improper contact axial load carrying capability. The forces
geometry exists. acting on and generated by the TRB are
 Scuffing: Scuffing traditionally occurs shown in Fig. 18. Resultant forces act
when there are insufficient traction forces perpendicular to the raceway. Since race
between the roller and the raceways surfaces are not parallel, there will be an
resulting in gross sliding at the contact. effective seating force that ‘pushes’ the roller
As the heat generation increases, the into the rib. The seating force aids in roller
surfaces adhere and cause transfer of the alignment during operation. Excessive
material. The sliding is caused by low seating forces can cause sizeable rib forces
bearing preload or a low load zone, high resulting in increased heat generation and
speeds and/or light loads. early bearing damage.
 Micropitting: Micropitting is similar to
macropitting, except occurring on the
micrometer scale. The small pits on the
surface are due to the increased stresses
that occur on the microscale when
lubricant films are thin compared to the
surface texture resulting from the
finishing process. This issue is grossly
accelerated when sliding occurs on the Fig. 17. On-apex design of a TRB.
surface simultaneously with the thin
lubricant films.
 Structural issues: Structural issues may
be related to sections of the inner or outer
raceways that may be used as structural
members to transmit the load instead of

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 Included roller angle (F)
 Mean roller diameter [(LED+SED)/2]

Optimization of the overall design takes skill


and experience because these factors are
closely interrelated. Bearing envelope size
will usually be dictated by turbine designers,
but upfront work with bearing suppliers will
make the most effective use of available
space. Designers and application engineers
Fig. 18. Forces acting in a TRB. will balance features affecting load carrying
capability relative to radial, axial and
A typical double-row TRB single main overturning moments, combining predicted
bearing for mainshaft applications is bearing life, system stiffness, powerloss and
composed of a double outer race [A] (or cup), heat generation, load zone maintenance,
two inner races [B] (or cones), two rows of setting, lubrication, and handling and
rollers [C] and a retainer [D] (cage) for each maintenance issues into an optimized
roller row as shown in Fig. 19. The solution.
intersection of the bearing centerline and the
angled dashed lines in Fig. 19 define the
bearing spread for counteracting the RETAINERS AND UNITIZATION
overturning moments. There are several options in bearing designs
for mainshaft bearings in regards to roller
unitization. Bearing cages can have some
performance benefits. Full complement
designs (no cage or separators) have power
density benefits, but need to be engineered
with care due to roller body contact during
operation and also can complicate assembly
and setting procedures.

Manufacturing of "L" style cages in sizes


typical for mainshaft bearings in direct and
hybrid drives may be accomplished through
precision cut processes such as:
 Full machining
Fig. 19. Typical TDO bearing  Forming technology
components and features.  CNC controlled precision cutting

There are many design considerations A traditional closing in process may not be
required for two-row TRB for mainshaft feasible in this size range. This can be
applications. Designs should be balanced in overcome with a means of axial retention to
order to obtain a bearing that is optimized for hold the rollers in place after assembly. The
performance, price and manufacturing. The inner race assembly can then be handled
primary features (Fig. 19) of the bearing that separately from the outer race without a need
must be considered in the design phase are: of unitization. Another option is a cut-and-
 Mean pitch diameter (average of the weld cage design that avoids the closing in
bore and outside diameter of the process.
bearing)
 Included cup angle (E) As mentioned previously, use of a cage will
lower the bearing rating when compared to
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THE TIMKEN COMPANY
an identically sized full-complement design, Contacting lip polymer seals are likely to
but there could be other advantages related control leakage better than non-contacting
to better grease distribution including labyrinth seals, but care must be taken in
elimination of contact between roller bodies designing the seal for ability to meet life
(rollers will contact cage which is made of expectations for wind turbines in the field.
softer material and generally will not wear Non-contacting labyrinth seals, when
roller surface) and roller guidance through designed and applied properly, should give
unloaded zones. more confidence in meeting long-life targets.
Concerns that must be addressed for
For full-complement designs, there are labyrinth seals are control of lubricant
several considerations that must be taken leakage and robustness to system deflections
into account during the design process, to avoid labyrinth element contact.
including:
A two-row TRB bearing supplied with a
 Maximum allowable speed is limited to preset lateral setting, seals and lubrication
prevent metal transfer from roller to takes complexity out of the turbine
roller/race. manufacturer’s assembly process and allows
 Engineered coatings on rollers will allow the bearing manufacturer to maintain tight
for increases in speed and will enhance control of the characteristics that factor into
bearing performance by altering the final bearing assembly.
surface finish and improving the lambda
ratios. The bearing life should be CONCLUSION
improved, particularly in low lambda There is a strong drive in the industry to
conditions, by reducing adhesive metal improve wind turbine reliability. Proper
transfer. bearing design and application are key
 Unitization will simplify bearing setting, factors in helping to increase turbine uptime
installation and removal, and may help and reducing maintenance costs. Accurately
eliminate incidental damage to rollers defining system loading and environmental
during turbine assembly. conditions and translating them for use into
advanced analytical programs is a key first
The use of CRB/SRB designs in mainshaft step to achieving improvements.
configurations, especially hybrids which may
have a very large outside diameter (OD) size, For mainshaft designs in mid-speed hybrids
is related to roller size. Large rollers or direct drive turbines, TRBs provide
operating in a system with excessive features that address concerns relating to
clearance may be more prone to bearing life/capacity, stress and roller load
skidding/smearing damage compared to a management, reduction of skidding and
preloaded TRB. smearing, improving system stiffness and
simplifying the turbine assembly process.
The authors’ company has significant
SEALS experience in advanced analysis to help
Sealing is more critical in direct drive achieve the desired improvements.
generator wind turbines than hybrid and
other drivetrain designs. The seals need to Involving bearing suppliers in the design
control grease/oil leakage and also exclude process can lead to better use of available
contaminants from entering the bearing. package space for the bearings and allow for
Direct drive generators can be damaged if a more optimized turbine design.
lubricants leak from the bearing seals into the
generator. Seals are also critical in off-shore ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
applications where exposure to salt water The authors would like to extend sincere
spray causes a harsh operating environment. appreciation to several individuals who
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THE TIMKEN COMPANY
helped formulate the ideas discussed in this
paper, including Timken associates Jim
Charmley, Gerald Fox, Michael Kotzalas,
Doug Lucas and David Novak.

REFERENCES
1) Butterfield, S., McNiff, B., and Musial, W.,
Improving Wind Turbine Gearbox Reliability,
European Wind Energy Conference, May 2007
2) Dinner, H., Trends in Wind Turbine Drive
Trains, KISSsoft GmbH, Switzerland
3) Lucas, D., and Pontius, T., Designing Large
Diameter Close-Coupled Two-Row Tapered
Roller Bearings for Supporting Wind Turbine
Rotor Loading, Hannover Fair, 2003
4) Bhatia, R., and Springer, T., Using Histograms
in the Selection Process for Tapered Roller
Bearings, International Off-Highway Meeting,
Milwaukee, 1981
5) Ionescu, L., and Pontius, T., Mainshaft Support
for Wind Turbine with Fixed and Floating
Bearing Configuration: Tapered Double Inner
Row Bearing vs. Spherical Roller Bearing on
Fixed Position, 2005
6) Oyague, F. Gearbox Modeling and Load
Simulation of a Baseline 750-kW Wind Turbine
Using State-of-the-Art Simulation Codes,
NREL/TP-500-41160, Feb. 2009

13
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