Timken, a minor supplier of gearbox bearings to the wind industry, but a large player on the world bearing market, reports that is has developed a self-aligning tapered roller bearing which can be used in conjunction with semi-flexible gearbox mounting arrangements. Flexible mounting has become increasingly popular to help maintain alignment of bearings during operation, but the downside has been possible deflections of the gearbox axles. The design goal is for the bearing life to exceed the wind turbine life without ever requiring replacement. Misalignment of bearings has been identified as a cause of the epidemic of gearbox failures suffered by the wind industry over the past six years (Windpower Monthly, November 2005).
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol