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.
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. 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.
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.
N3FC, it is new coating’s name, has proven its worth through more than 100 million testing cycles with no appreciable micropitting. 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.