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From N.A. Windpower — How Clean is the Oil in Your Turbine?

(Editor’s Note:  Just an information piece for those of us who want to remind the supporters of “clean wind energy” just how “clean” turbines are and that they actually use quite a lot of *gasp* evil oil.  This is a long article, so probably only the engineers among us could get through the whole thing.  I lost interest after the first page.  🙂  — DQ)

Justin Stover — North American Wind Power — August 2014

The oil film between the internal mechanical parts of a wind turbine is, in essence, the lifeblood. Impurities in the oil will break down the oil film, creating wear, tear and premature failure.

Therefore, clean oil is a must for gears, bearings and hydraulic systems. Fluid systems in a wind turbine vary in their design and the specific types of fluids used. However, they all share common features, such as breathers and inline/offline filtration, relating to fluid cleanliness.

These vital components serve as a contamination control system in a wind turbine. The goal of contamination control is to keep the oil as clean as possible because clean oil is an important influence factor to reliable performance. State-of-the-art breathers and filtration systems can achieve lower particle count levels, reduce water content and remove harmful oxidation products. Many sources cite dramatic improvements in reliability and lifetime by cleaning up fluid. Therefore, it is a paradox that many wind turbines are sold without breathers and filter systems capable of maintaining fluid cleanliness.

These vital components serve as a contamination control system in a wind turbine. The goal of contamination control is to keep the oil as clean as possible because clean oil is an important influence factor to reliable performance. State-of-the-art breathers and filtration systems can achieve lower particle count levels, reduce water content and remove harmful oxidation products. Many sources cite dramatic improvements in reliability and lifetime by cleaning up fluid. Therefore, it is a paradox that many wind turbines are sold without breathers and filter systems capable of maintaining fluid cleanliness.

Not all wind turbines suffer from severe contamination, but all wind turbines should have contamination control systems in place that will give the gears, bearings and hydraulics a fighting chance to survive and even thrive.

Wind turbine owners and operators can develop a well-operating contamination control system by following three simple steps: set fluid cleanliness targets, minimize contamination and monitor fluid cleanliness.

Set fluid cleanliness targets. How clean should the fluids in a wind turbine be? As clean as possible! That is the simple and straightforward answer. That sounds reasonable in theory, but it is difficult in practice. A good starting point is to know your enemy. There are two primary contaminants that threaten wind turbines: particles and moisture. Particle contamination is commonly expressed according to ISO 4406:99, a code to determine cleanliness levels.
Take note that each step in the ISO code represents either a halving of the particles (down) or a doubling (up).   If you are so inclined, continue reading here…..

Oil-Barrel

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