Despite the rigors of scientific inquiry and the methodical approaches of the world’s most talented researchers, sometimes science has a surprise in store.
Such was the case when a group of researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Akron discovered that a particular form of carbon coating not necessarily designed for wind turbines may indeed prove a boon to the wind industry — a serendipitous finding that was recently highlighted in the journal Tribology International.
Prolonging the life of these components could greatly reduce the cost of wind power, the fastest growing source of energy in the world, thereby making it an even more attractive energy source.
Due to the strenuous environment inherent in wind turbine drivetrains, key components such as actuators, bearings and gears are prone to failure, meaning turbines require regular maintenance that helps drive up the price of wind energy. Prolonging the life of these components could greatly reduce the cost of wind power, the fastest growing source of energy in the world, thereby making it an even more attractive energy source.
These failures are often due to a phenomenon known as micropitting in which the repeated rolling and sliding cycles in the gears and bearings of turbines lead to cracks on the surface of drivetrain components. Further contact only exacerbates the cracking once it begins, chipping away at the metal and increasing the severity of the existing cracks until costly maintenance is necessary or, even worse, the drivetrain fails.
Enter Argonne’s Tribology and Thermal-Mechanics Section and its Surface and Lubrication Interaction, Discovery and Engineering (SLIDE) initiative, which investigates how lubricants and materials interact and develops novel lubrication and coating concepts that reduce friction, and therefore micropitting, prolonging component life across a range of energy technologies.
And sometimes they get a little lucky. Such was the case when SLIDE researchers applied this “diamond-like” (some of the carbon-to-carbon bonding in the coating is similar to that of diamonds) coating to wind turbine components, which was not the intended use.
“We felt that if it was working under other sliding conditions, it might work in wind turbine drivetrains as well,” said SLIDE’s Ali Erdemir, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow. “Initially, our expectations were low, as we thought the coating would wear out due to the high stresses inherent in wind turbines, but that didn’t happen.”
So far the coating, named N3FC, has proven its worth through more than 100 million testing cycles with no appreciable micropitting.
Erdemir admits that they don’t know exactly how far it could go, as it has surpassed the time limit of SLIDE’s benchtop micropitting test rig. If the coating performs similarly under real-world conditions, it could mean huge savings in terms of maintenance and prevention of failure in wind turbines nationwide — to the tune of millions of dollars, said Erdemir.
But first, he added, they need to learn exactly why it works.
“We don’t yet understand the exact mechanism,” said Erdemir. “The general belief is that component wear life extension requires a much harder coating, as more hardness reduces wear. But in this case the coating has less hardness than the base steel, so conventional thought doesn’t apply.”
The team is now eager to work with companies and see how N3FC performs in the field. Until then, they will stay busy trying to discover the mechanism behind this surprising scientific development. “We would love to get to the bottom of this and design even better coatings,” said Erdemir.
The team is also testing the coating in sealing applications for compressors. As a low-friction surface coating, it may also prove beneficial in natural gas and hydrogen environments. “It appears to have multiple capabilities in terms of performance,” said Erdemir.
Learn more: Gone with the wind: Argonne coating shows surprising potential to improve reliability in wind power
The Latest on: Wind turbines
via Google News
The Latest on: Wind turbines
- Utility Plans 1st-Of-Its-Kind Renewable Energy Site In Eastern Oregon on February 20, 2019 at 8:00 am
Portland General Electric is making plans to build the country’s first large-scale energy facility that combines wind turbines, solar panels and battery storage. It’s that combination of renewable ene... […]
- Offshore wind could support more than 17,500 new jobs in California on February 20, 2019 at 7:40 am
With some of the highest offshore wind speeds in the world, a floating offshore wind industry in California could dramatically increase in-state renewable energy generation and support more than 17,50... […]
- Here Comes All Your California Offshore Wind Jobs — #CleanTechnica Exclusive Interview on February 20, 2019 at 7:23 am
Whelp, that was fast. Yesterday the prospect of harvesting offshore wind power along the California coast was so much pixie dust. Today it’s a matter of when, not if. To underscore the point ... […]
- Nebraska county enacts distance rules for wind turbines on February 20, 2019 at 6:41 am
County officials in southeastern Nebraska have approved a rule aimed at protecting residents who aren't being paid to participate in a wind farm project. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the Lanc... […]
- Falmouth Wind Turbine Victims Owed One Million Dollars on February 20, 2019 at 5:08 am
This post was contributed by a community member. Diane and Barry Funfar were living the American dream of home ownership in Falmouth until the installation of two foreign-made Vestas 110 decibel ... […]
- EUROPE POWER-Week-ahead prices up, German wind power output seen flagging on February 20, 2019 at 3:42 am
FRANKFURT, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Week-ahead power contracts rose on Wednesday in European wholesale market trading on lower forecasts for German wind production which tightened supply in an otherwise slu... […]
- Iberdrola profits lifted by rising wind and hydro energy output on February 20, 2019 at 12:30 am
Iberdrola reaped the benefits of increased output from its wind farms and more hydroelectric production in Spain and Brazil, as well as the normalisation of operating conditions in the UK and its home ... […]
- Global Wind Energy Cables Market forecast 2019 -2025 made available by top research firm on February 19, 2019 at 9:23 pm
The study covers key market drivers, restraints, and opportunities which determine the dynamics of the market. The market has been analyzed using tools such as SWOT (Strength, weakness, opportunities, ... […]
- Wind energy project stirs controversy in Broome County on February 19, 2019 at 6:38 pm
Dozens of Windsor and Sanford residents met with town officials Tuesday night to discuss a proposed project that's sparking controversy. During a public meeting at the Windsor Community House, residen... […]
- Lancaster County Board approves strictest distance rule in state for wind turbines, homes on February 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm
Wind energy developers in Lancaster County will be required to place turbines at least 1 mile from any home that is not being paid to participate in the project. The mile rule, the strictest in ... […]
via Bing News