Alternate energy – How to maintain wind turbines

Wind turbines are a great source of alternative energy, they can be installed both offshore and onshore which makes them a good investment into renewable energy sources.

Due to their mechanical nature wind turbines have many moving parts. These parts need to be regular maintained and cleaned to avoid any down time or possible corrosion.

There are two aspects to ensuring wind turbines are kept operating throughout their lifetime: quality in the manufacturing process which includes using the correct lubrication, laminating and protection. Regular maintenance, including lubrication of moving parts, cleaning of the engine and brakes, corrosion protection and assembly/dissemble of the structure.

Wind turbine manufacturing process

The manufacturing of wind turbine blades plays an essential part in its life expectancy. Most wind turbine rotary blades are manufactured using composites such as fibreglass and carbon fibre to improve its strength and stiffness while reducing its overall weight to improve the power output.

The blades themselves are exposed to the elements, sometimes in the harshest conditions. The rotary blades can receive bird strikes, lightening strikes and be exposed to weather erosion. All these factors reduce the aerodynamics of the turbine resulting in a drop in performance and power output.

There are solutions that can be applied to the manufacturing process that can extend their service life. Structural adhesives can help speed up the repair process for engineers when repairing edge corrosion, small holes or surface defects on the blades.

Once wind turbine blades have been manufactured they are usually placed into storage prior to transporting to its final destination. In most cases they are transported over great distances using a number of different methods such as boat, air, road. The combination of the two can also put great strain on the blades condition if exposed to the elements and movement whilst in transit. This is why it is essential to have corrosion protection in place, especially on the exposed metal parts.

The CRC SP-400 is a reputable corrosion inhibitor, not only used in the wind turbine manufacturing and transportation process but also used by many engineers to prevent rust erosion or in some cases to prevent further rusting during harsh conditions in winters. The inhibitor sprays on smoothly and evenly. After a couple of hours it creates a tough film of protection that doesn’t attract dust or dirt, thus preventing rust from occurring.

Crack testing spray

Many cracks in engineering materials can be deep in spite of having a very small opening width on the surface and can cause very serious defects. By normal visual inspection such cracks may be very difficult to detect, but penetrant flaw detection is an extension of the visual inspection method.

Label Off Super FPS 400ml

Removes self-adhesive paper labels from most surfaces in 2-3 minutes after wetting, NSF listed as an adhesive and glue remover (NSF K3.)

SP 400 II Protective wax spray

Corrosion protection wax for direct environmental exposure. Forms a brownish-transparent, firm-gripping wax film on metal surfaces, which can be easily removed

Fast Stick Spray

Corrosion protection wax for direct environmental exposure. Forms a brownish-transparent, firm-gripping wax film on metal surfaces, which can be easily removed

Maintenance and repair

During operation wind turbines will require regular maintenance, usually 2-3 times a year, which includes cleaning, lubrication and corrosion prevention. Over the years turbine blades have increased in size to maximise their power output but this also puts great strain on the turbine generator, gearbox, controller, rotor and brakes. Thus, turbine engines need regular maintenance and lubrication. Suing the correct formulated lubrication is important to extend the period between maintenance reducing the overall costs and prevention of any down time or loss in power output.

The gearbox is not the only part of the turbine that requires lubrication, however. The generator also requires lubrication, and there are lubrication points on the blades. Wind tower blades have bearings that will essentially feather the blade so operators can optimize the blade angle to match wind speed. The main shaft bearing also requires grease for lubrication, as well as the drivetrain and yaw and pitch drives. The turbines also use a hydraulic system that is used to provide a braking mechanism for a unit, but can also be used for hydraulic pitch control on the blades.
Monitoring the equipment is also an important part of preventing expensive and unnecessary repairs. Most wind farms and specifically remote off-shore wind farms will have monitoring solutions. These will include taking samples of oil, measuring the vibrations in the gearbox and using software that continually evaluates the performance of units based on oil temperature, rotation speed and other various sensor information.

Wind turbines also consists of a  number of electrical parts not just mechanical. These electrical parts can become expose to the elements if not properly housed or could come into contact with dust, humidity, condensation which can cause corrosion on the printed circuit board. This could ultimately lead to faulty sensors and monitoring of the turbine itself which would require a maintenance call out. There are a number of solutions that would be used prevent oxidisation of the contacts, dust contamination and corrosion depending on the requirements.

With all these different parts of a wind turbine that requires regular maintenance, multiple products could be required in order to maintain a single turbine.

Industrial Degreaser

For removing oil, grease and industrial contamination from all types of metal surfaces. Quick, residue-free drying

Lithium Grease

A high purity NLGI 2 white, lithium based grease with an advanced additive package including PTFE for superior lubrication. Smooth consistency for optimum surface coverage

Heavy Duty Cleaner, Ferrokleen, 5kg

Cleans painted and bare metal surfaces contaminated with rust, lime, algae, oils and tar. Takes rust and rust stains on painted or plastic surfaces away. Effective against a wide range of scales.

5-56 PTFE Spraydose 500 ml

Multipurpose service spray. Loosens rusted parts. Displaces moisture, enables to start wet engines, prevents electrical failure. Lubricates, stops squeaks and squeals, frees sticking mechanisms. Protects metals against humidity, corrosive atmosphere and prevents rust.

Dust Free 360 FPS, 250ml

Efficient high pressure liquid gas blend that removes dust and cleans with a powerful jet of dry inert gas. It prevents errors, downtime and damage caused by microscopic dust. Designed for use as a cleaner for electrical or electronic equipment in food processing or non-processing areas.

Contact Cleaner FPS, 500ml

Residue-free contact cleaner for use on PCB’s and electronic equipment. Fast drying. Developed for use as a cleaner for electrical or electronic equipment in food processing or non-processing areas. NSF K2

Urethane Isolation

Urethane coating seals out water and moisture and acts as a barrier for contaminants. The coating dries fast and adheres well to most surfaces. After curing, the protective film has a high flexibility, is durable and resists abrasion and contamination.

Lectra Clean II

Strong water-free cleaner with especially long soaking-in time particularly for rough, oily and greasy dirt. The high flash point of the cleaner means that it can be used without any special explosion protection measures .Suitable for cleaning highly soiled gears and motors

Synthetic Grease

Applicable like an oil and sets as a grease. Excellent water resistance, contains a corrosion inhibitor. Functional over a broad temperature range. Provides long-term lubrication with very good stability to oxidation

Cleaning Spray Bottle Pumpspray 750ml

Aqueous cleaning concentrate with NSF A1 food-safe approval. The alkaline cleaning agent serves for universal cleaning and degreasing. The selected surface-active agents are easily biologically degradable. Ideally suited for large-area cleaning of systems, machines, floors, workspaces, conveyor belts, tiles, etc.

Copper Paste, 250ml

Paste with copper particles for heavy loads at start-up situations. Contains micronized copper powder, anti-oxidant and anti-wear additives. Prevents metal-to-metal contact, seizing, galling and fretting corrosion, especially on sliding bearings.

Anti-Corrosion Protection Spray 500ml

Low-viscous, water-displacing, corrosion-proof oil, specially for electrical applications. Suitable for preventive protection of electromechanical components from moisture. Can be directly applied to wet components damaged by water. Prevents corrosion and ensures high transfer resistances of insulators

Zinc Aluminum Coating Spray 500ml

Zinc-aluminum protective coating. Anticorrosion coating with the silver hue of hot-dip galvanized surfaces. Quick-drying, adherent and weather-resistant, ideally suited for mending hot-dip galvanized surfaces

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