With 8,000 parts in a single wind turbine, it’s smart for everyone if those pieces are working together seamlessly. For wind farm managers, maximizing productivity and preserving energy are key. For anyone on the ground (or, climbing ladders hundreds of feet into the sky to do turbine maintenance), seeing a machine that weighs anywhere from 150 to 350 tons immediately brings safety to the forefront.
According to the Global Wind Energy Council, there were over 314,000 wind turbines spinning around the world at the end of 2015. This number is only expected to continue growing over the next 35 years, as renewable energy generation helps to fill the increasing global demand for electricity. In an industry expected to employ over 520,000 people by 2020, it is imperative that manufacturers take innovative approaches to increasing output while adhering to strict safety regulations.
Recently, the manager of a wind farm contacted Quadrant for assistance eliminating a performance and maintenance problem. The bearing surfaces in the positioning system of each turbine were rapidly failing, due to weather, temperature, and mechanical load. These strains were causing the units to make very loud noises, and required an employee to climb a 260-foot ladder—no matter the weather—to apply a lubricant to the unit’s stuck bearings. During each episode of bearing failure, the company experienced capacity loss due to the broken turbines as well as extra costs for emergency maintenance—clearly not a sustainable model.
With the help of Quadrant’s application specialists and technical experts, a grade of Quadrant’s Ketron® PEEK HPV was identified as the perfect solution for the bearing problem. Ketron® PEEK HPV offered the ideal combination of lubricity, load bearing capability, low coefficient of friction, and eliminated noise.
As demonstrated in this case study, thermoplastics can be substituted for steel, aluminum, or ceramic parts. Engineered thermoplastics are lighter, helping to cut down on the weight of the wind turbine overhead, self-lubricating, and help with noise reduction. Quadrant’s materials are extensively tested and specially designed to thrive in harsh chemical and extreme thermal conditions. This means less abrasion, erosion, and wear, resulting in increased equipment lifetime, increased time between repairs, and a reduction in waste and replacement needs.
With $109 billion dollars invested globally, wind power is one of the fastest growing industry segments in the world. By replacing metal parts with high-performing thermoplastics, manufacturers can maximize performance and energy output while protecting those investments. Components made from Quadrant materials support innovative technical development in all major sectors of alternative energy generation, helping leaders worldwide to maximize productivity and safety both today and far into the future.
Quadrant EPP is deeply committed to building application success in emerging alternative energy fields such as wind and solar. Our extensively tested materials are able to operate under harsh chemical and extreme thermal conditions. Because of their high specific strength, our thermoplastics can be substituted for steel, aluminum, or ceramic—reducing the weight of that wind turbine towering overhead. Noise reduction? We can help with that, too.