A simple economic analysis has revealed that in order for wind energy to be a viable alternative, wind-turbines (convertors of wind energy into electrical energy) must be able to operate for at least 20 years, with only regular maintenance. However, wind-turbines built nowadays do not generally possess this level of reliability and durability. Specifically, due to the malfunction and failure of drive-trains/gear-boxes, many wind-turbines require major repairs after only three to five years in service. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
The subject of the present work is the so-called white etch cracking, one of the key processes responsible for the premature failure of gear-box roller-bearings. To address this problem, a multi-physics computational methodology is developed and used to analyze the problem of wind-turbine gear-box roller-bearing premature-failure. The main components of the proposed methodology include the analyses of: first, hydrogen dissolution and the accompanying grain-boundary embrittlement phenomena; second, hydrogen diffusion from the crack-wake into the adjacent unfractured material; third, the inter-granular fracture processes; and fourth, the kinematic and structural response of the bearing under service-loading conditions.
The results obtained clearly revealed the operation of the white-etch cracking phenomenon in wind-turbine gear-box roller-bearings and its dependence on the attendant loading and environmental conditions.
The present work attempts to make a contribution to the resolution of an important problem related to premature-failure and inferior reliability of wind-turbine gearboxes.
Grujicic, M., Chenna, V., Galgalikar, R., Snipes, J.S., Ramaswami, S. and Yavari, R. (2014), "Computational analysis of gear-box roller-bearing white-etch cracking: A multi-physics approach ", International Journal of Structural Integrity, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 290-327. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSI-10-2013-0028
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