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Wind Turbines and Heat: Striking a Balance During Operations

Posted on by Kurz Industrial Solutions

The graceful turns of a wind turbine aren’t often associated with heat or friction. They appear like birds on the horizon. From an engineer’s perspective, however, there’s always a concern about overheating. The blades rotate at incredible speeds, which are funneled into internal components that ultimately provide sustainable energy to local businesses and residents. It makes sense that damaging these components must be avoided at all costs. Explore the science behind wind turbines and a few tips to prevent overheating in the first place.

Vulnerable Components

There are a surprising amount of vulnerable components in a turbine. A few parts can be the most flammable types, such as:

• Mechanical brakes

• Gearboxes

• Bearings

The entire nacelle can be problematic too, reports EDI Weekly. Oil, fuel and the polymer housing can be a recipe for fires and heat damage without the proper maintenance. All of these items must be individually inspected and maintained in order to stop turbines overheating. Millions of dollars can be at stake with neglected turbines.

Challenges for Personnel

Maintaining the wind turbine is a challenge itself. Unless companies prioritize the efforts, heat damage will prevail. The first obvious challenge is the sheer height. Workers must climb the turbine in order to reach the vulnerable parts. The workers must be skilled at managing heights and manipulating mechanical components.

Another deterrent to regular maintenance is the locations. Wind turbines are typically installed in remote places. Workers must reach the location and shut off the turbine for several hours. Energy and profits are lost with these tasks.

Employing Non-Combustible Materials

Turbine managers are quickly realizing that heat damage is a real threat every day. To reduce the odds of heat or fire, they’re turning to non-combustible materials. Lubricating oil and hydraulic fluid are the first items to be swapped out. They’re the most flammable liquids within the nacelle. Changing insulation material and adding radiant barriers are other prevention methods being implemented.

Converting to Closed-Loop Cooling System

Many turbines have an open-loop cooling system. It’s been a standard system for these machines over the years. However, open-loop systems allow water to evaporate when they warm up. The coolant levels are negatively impacted, which leads to heat damage.

A simple swap of an open-loop for a closed-loop cooling system is a smart decision for any business. Water may evaporate within the closed-loop system, but it remains in place for proper coolant operations. Heat damage is almost impossible at that point.

Keeping up With Electrical Maintenance

Turbines are essentially a collection of moving parts. Between these components are electrical systems that provide pathways for current. Heat damage occurs when short circuits develop, reports Home Power Magazine. Whether a turbine is on a private property or ran alongside a fleet of generators, electrical circuits become overloaded when friction comes into play.

By taking care of the moving parts and testing the electrical wiring, heat damage won’t be a factor in your configuration.

Lubricating the Parts

Items that might grind to a halt are sources of heat. Bearings and gears can lock up or create friction with surrounding parts. Avoid these scenarios by lubricating the parts on a regular basis. Keep the grease or oil free from any contaminants during service repairs. Check on the lubricants under reasonable service schedules.

If you notice that lubrication isn’t working as well as it used to, consider an evaluation of the surrounding parts. There may be an associated problem impacting the lubrication’s efficacy.

Replacing Worn Components

Moving parts will wear down over time. Although it costs money to replace them, the alternative is even more expensive. Keep up with minor repairs on the turbines because their costs will eventually lead to profits. The parts will operate at peak capacity when they aren’t cracked, worn or loose.

Turbine mechanics should document the repairs so that every machine has a clear picture of its maintenance schedule. No surprises occur with careful planning.

For all of your wind-energy needs, turn to Kurz and our team of specialists. Whether you require a new installation or basic repair, our company can help you with your turbine farm. Wind energy continues to soar into many industries as main sources of power. Be part of a revolution that helps the Earth in the end.

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