As the world strives towards a sustainable future, lubricants play a crucial role in powering this transition through their work with wind turbines. These majestic edifices of renewable energy require meticulous maintenance to perform optimally. And one of the unsung heroes in this endeavor is the right application of scientifically curated lubricants.
Exploring the Crucial Role of Lubrication
When it comes to lubrication in wind turbines, it’s a play of intricate physics and delicate chemistry. The viscosity of the lubricant, which reflects its resistance to flow, is key. This characteristic, influenced by intermolecular forces and the size and shape of the molecules, determines the lubricant’s ability to form a protective film between moving parts, thus minimizing friction and wear.
For instance, lubricants deployed in the gearboxes of wind turbines absorb and disperse the heat generated by friction, averting overheating and potential component failures.
Deep dive into lubricants used in wind turbines
In the wind turbines we care for at Banesto, we deploy various types of lubricants, each with its unique chemical compositions and physical properties:
At Banesto, we understand that wind turbines demand high-grade gear oils. Our gear oil is engineered to withstand high pressure and temperature, minimizing pitting and providing optimum wear protection.
We generally suggest an ISO VG 320 industrial extreme pressure (EP) gear oil for wind turbines. Banesto’s gear oil is uniquely formulated with a synthetic base oil and an advanced additive system, offering excellent protection against common gear and bearing distress modes. The EP additives in our product, often phosphorus or sulfur-based, create a sacrificial film on the metal surface to prevent wear.
It is noteworthy that we prefer synthetic gear oils, such as polyalphaolefin (PAO) or polyalkylene glycol (PAG) based gear oils, over mineral oils due to their improved oxidation resistance, thermal stability, and wide temperature performance range.
Banesto’s hydraulic oil is a pivotal component in wind turbines’ hydraulic systems, facilitating blade pitching and yaw adjustments. We acknowledge that turbines are often subjected to low outdoor temperatures; thus, our hydraulic oil is formulated with a low pour point to remain functional in cold conditions.
We typically recommend an ISO VG 46 anti-wear hydraulic oil. It is uniquely formulated with high-quality mineral base oils and a balanced additive system from Banesto, providing good thermal stability and resistance to oxidation. Our hydraulic oil is enriched with anti-wear additives, corrosion inhibitors, and foam suppressants to ensure efficient functioning of the hydraulic system under a wide range of conditions.
Banesto’s grease, used for general-purpose lubrication in wind turbines, typically lubricates bearings, yaw and pitch drives, and generator bearings. Our wind turbine greases are designed to withstand wide temperature ranges, protect against corrosion, and exhibit excellent load-carrying ability.
We often suggest a lithium complex NLGI 2 grade grease with an EP additive system. This Banesto’s grease formulation offers good mechanical stability, high-temperature performance, and rust protection. The thickener system provides our grease with its structure, and the EP additives, much like in our gear oil, create a sacrificial film to prevent wear.
While these are general recommendations, Banesto pays meticulous attention to the specific make and model of the wind turbine, prevailing environmental conditions, and the OEM’s guidelines when determining the appropriate choice of lubricant type and grade.
Lubricant selection and wind turbine longevity
At Banesto, we believe in the power of precision. The careful selection of lubricants, designed for specific tasks at the molecular level, and regular maintenance schedules significantly impact the efficiency and lifespan of wind turbines. High-performance synthetic lubricants, engineered to withstand extreme conditions and maintain their lubricating properties, not only enhance turbine efficiency but also extend maintenance intervals.
Through routine oil changes and meticulous monitoring of lubricant condition and component health, we anticipate changes in viscosity, contamination, or oil breakdown. This proactive approach allows us to address potential issues early, thereby avoiding costly repairs or catastrophic failures.
At Banesto, our commitment to harnessing wind energy efficiently is underpinned by our profound understanding of the chemistry and physics of lubrication. As we continue to develop and deploy suitable lubricants, we ensure that wind turbines are not just efficient, reliable, and durable but are also contributing towards a sustainable future of wind power generation. And as a dedicated chemist at Banesto, I am privileged to play my part in this journey.