A review of wind turbine main-bearings : design, operation, modelling, damage mechanisms and fault detection

Hart, Edward and Clarke, Benjamin and Nicholas, Gary and Kazemi Amiri, Abbas and Stirling, James and Carroll, James and Dwyer-Joyce, Rob and McDonald, Alasdair and Long, Hui (2020) A review of wind turbine main-bearings : design, operation, modelling, damage mechanisms and fault detection. Wind Energy Science, 5 (1). pp. 105-124. ISSN 2366-7443

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    Abstract

    This paper presents a review of existing theory and practice relating to main bearings for wind turbines. The main bearing performs the critical role of supporting the turbine rotor, with replacements typically requiring its complete removal. The operational conditions and loading for wind turbine main bearings deviate significantly from those of more conventional power plants and other bearings present in the wind turbine power train, i.e. those in the gearbox and generator. This work seeks to thoroughly document current main-bearing theory in order to allow for appraisal of existing design and analysis practices, while also seeking to form a solid foundation for future research in this area. The most common main-bearing setups are presented along with standards for bearing selection and rating. Typical loads generated by a wind turbine rotor, and subsequently reacted at the main bearing, are discussed. This is followed by the related tribological theories of lubrication, wear and associated failure mechanisms. Finally, existing techniques for bearing modelling, fault diagnosis and prognosis relevant to the main bearing are presented.