Pitch control plain bearings favoured by wind turbine manufacturer
26 Jul 2021

A large wind turbine manufacturer continues to use Vesconite Hilube actuator bearing supports in its wind turbines’ hydraulic blade pitch control systems.

Pitch control systems are essential to protect wind turbines in adverse weather conditions as well as maximise the energy production of wind turbines. These systems allow blades to be twisted so that load can be reduced when wind speeds are high and even stopped completely in over-speed conditions. Pitch control also allows the blades to be adjusted a few degrees to optimise for wind speeds and wind direction.

Since these systems are vital in high wind conditions, as well as to ensure optimal energy production, only tried-and-tested components are used.

It is thus with confidence that the large wind turbine manufacturer continues to support its pitch control systems with Vesconite Hilube bearings that it has used since 2003 in its own branded turbines.

Indeed, the engineers associated with the development of the company’s proprietary system have had experience of Vesconite Hilube’s performance in wind turbines since the early 1990s when they were associated with various other companies which, together with their intellectual property (IP) and expertise, were later incorporated by Vesconite Bearings’ current client.

One of the engineers who has been consistently involved with the development of the IP that is currently employed by the wind turbine manufacturer, Bruce Valpy, now Managing Director of leading wind industry consultancy BVG Associates, notes that Vesconite Hilube was “the only bearing material that coped with the tough, constant, back-and-forth duty in its mechanical pitch systems.”

He further notes that, after testing several bearing materials for the hydraulic pitch control arms, it was found that only Vesconite Hilube displayed satisfactory wear life.

“We had such good experience of the Vesconite product and the support, that we included it in our shortlisted materials for the actuator bearing supports,” Valpy says.

“After rigorous accelerated life testing, it again came out best, and went on to perform excellently, supporting thousands of pitch actuators in operation around the world,” he notes.

It is estimated that 90% of new wind turbines have pitch control systems installed to mitigate the catastrophic failures that might occur in extreme weather conditions.

Combining low friction, minimal wear rate and very low lubrication needs as well as UV resistance and cold and hot climate tolerance, Vesconite Hilube has proved to be the ideal plain bearing material for wind turbine pitch control system bearings.

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