Spectro Scientific

Automating oil particle analysis


Courtesy of Spectro Scientific

Run up to 25 samples at one time

The major issue for premature failure in wind turbine gearboxes is bearing failure, which leads to gearbox failure. A wind turbine gearbox will not survive if the oil is not clean and especially if the hard ferrous particles are not removed from around the bearings
The LaserNet 230 particle counter and ferrous debris monitor has been shown to be an excellent analytical tool for end users to be able to diagnose wear faults in various machine applications such as gear boxes, engines and

The wear generated in a wind turbine gear box is a function of load, speed and lubricant condition. The lubricant must be correctly specified for the turbine gear box’s idealized operating load and speed and its condition must be carefully monitored in order to maintain the required lubricant film thickness in these regimes. Ever-changing wind conditions and large variations in climates make wind turbine condition monitoring extremely challenging. As a result careful continuous automated monitoring of these critical and expensive assets is required.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is an existing user of the LaserNet Fines® (LNF) technology in drive train wind turbine monitoring. They have demonstrated and recommended that condition monitoring using the LNF is critical to avoiding premature failures in wind turbines.

Existing particle counter/auto sampler setups are not ideally suited to processing heavy batches of wind turbine oil samples which can also vary considerably in contamination level. Extra dilution steps for the viscosity and the contamination levels are required making them unsuitable compared to the standard clean oil hydraulic applications for which they were initially designed for.

Wear particles typically found in a gearbox and how they are generated

The abnormal wear generated in any gear system typically comes from the pitch line of the gear tooth (fatigue) or the tip of the gear (severe sliding). At the pitch line, the contact is rolling so the particles will be similar to rolling contact fatigue particles. The gear contact has an increased sliding component as the root or tip is approached and the particles will show signs of sliding morphology. This morphological wear data is extremely beneficial to the end user and abnormalities in the gearboxes caused by large particle generation are easily identifiable when trends are established that can distinguish  ferrous from non-ferrous material.  Another critical feature of a wind turbine gearbox is the bearings are both on the low and high speed stages and any misalignment of these will induce failure.

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