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Sealing at dizzy heights

How seals for wind energy support a greener world

The call to shift away from non-renewable energy sources is louder than ever, and wind energy has reared its head as a prime candidate in helping the world to transition. However, onshore and offshore wind turbines are only as dependable as the parts they consist of. Sealing solutions should therefore be suitably robust to deal with the operational extremities that wind turbines present.

Environmental conditions, especially moisture, can have detrimental consequences for wind turbine bearings if sealing solutions don’t have the necessary protective characteristics. If too much moisture is present within a turbine, corrosion can occur, or lubricants may become ineffective – resulting in premature failure. Furthermore, bearings may even corrode themselves and electrical equipment is at risk of damage. This can be avoided by correctly sealing the areas where bearings and key machinery is located. Minimizing and avoiding premature failure of wind turbines are critical aspects taken into consideration by SKF experts when developing a new generation of sturdy, wear-resistant turbine-specific seals that help operators reduce maintenance costs and increase reliability.

Sealing at new heights

Different types of industrial seals are used in the construction of wind turbines. SKF seals applications can mainly be found in the main shaft, pitch and yaw bearings, gearbox, and hydraulic systems – each possessing unique functions and characteristics.

High-performance seals are designed to meet industry-specific challenges, which in this case are extreme weather conditions and mechanical pressures, as well as ease of installation, maintenance, and decommission. Therefore, SKF’s new generation of seals ensure that wind turbines are operating efficiently and with as few disruptions as possible.

Full-range seals for wind power turbines

SKF has since long recognized the importance industrial seals play in system performance and has developed a full range of polyurethane HRS seals to help wind farm operators reach their productivity goals, as well to achieve greater turbine reliability and reduced maintenance costs.

Polyurethane HRS seals protect against extreme conditions faced by the wind turbine main shaft helping to ensure lubricant retention and prevent contaminant-related bearing failures. The HRS seals come in a full range of standard sizes suitable for modern wind turbine applications and can also be manufactured to meet specific requirements.

Lightweight and easy to install

Unlike labyrinth seal designs, polyurethane HRS made from G-ECOPUR seals are manufactured to be lightweight and are less bulky, meaning they are help optimize space utilization and minimize the weight of turbine nacelles. The entire HRS range is available is solid or split designs. While the first are intended for installation during manufacturing, the latter are ideal for in-service replacement or manufacturing applications where there is no access to the end of the shaft.

Testing under real-life conditions

SKF not only provides effective seals solutions, but also ensures all components produced such as large size bearings, used in wind turbines, are held to the highest performance and reliability standards. SKF’s Sven Wingquist Test Center in Germany is the only site where such bearing arrangements can be tested thanks to its two state-of-the-art test rigs.

SKF possesses extensive experience working alongside OEMs to design and develop components that ensure wind turbine assets remain operational for as long as possible by optimizing turbine performance, reliability, and energy output. To find out more, visit the website.