New technology could reduce wind energy costs

wind farm
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845 MW wind farm in the U.S. state of Oregon. Credit: Steve Wilson / Wikipedia.

Engineers from the University of Sheffield have developed a novel technique to predict when bearings inside wind turbines will fail which could make wind energy cheaper.

The method, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A and developed by Mechanical Engineering research student Wenqu Chen, uses ultrasonic waves to measure the load transmitted through a ball bearing in a wind turbine. The stress on wind turbine is recorded and then engineers can forecast its remaining service life.

When a bearing is subject to a load, its thickness is reduced by a very small amount due to elastic deformation, and the speed of sound is affected by the stress level in the material. Both these effects change the time of flight of an ultrasound wave through a bearing.

The new method is the only way to directly measure the transmitted load through the rolling bearing components. It uses a custom-built piezoelectric sensor mounted in the bearing to measure the time of flight and determine the load. This sensor is less expensive and significantly smaller than currently available, making it suitable for smaller turbines. It can also provide a better prediction of the maintenance needed, saving money in servicing.

Professor Rob Dwyer-Joyce, co-author of the paper and Director of the Leonardo Centre for Tribology at the University of Sheffield says: "This technique can be used to prevent unexpected bearing failures, which are a common problem in . By removing the risk of a loss of production and the need for unplanned maintenance, it can help to reduce the cost of and make it much more economically competitive."

The new technology has been validated in the lab and is currently being tested at the Barnesmore farm in Donegal, Ireland by the company, Ricardo. It is hoped it will be used in the future inside monitoring systems for other turbines.

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More information: W. Chen, R. Mills, R. S. Dwyer-Joyce (2015) Direct load monitoring of rolling bearing contacts using ultrasonic time of flight. Proceedings of the Royal Society A. Volume: 471 Issue: 2180
Citation: New technology could reduce wind energy costs (2015, August 13) retrieved 26 June 2019 from
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Aug 14, 2015
It is already selling for 2 1/2 cents/kWh. What else do you want?

Aug 14, 2015
2 1/2 cents/kWh
It should be for free.
ultrasound wave
Music for bats to alleviate their stress level when they are being ecologically friendly butchered by wind blades.

Aug 14, 2015
speaking of alternatives to renewables:


Aug 14, 2015
Meanwhile, they are trying to get the cost of producing power from the gigantic AP1000 new reactors at Vogtle below thirteen cents/kWh!

Aug 14, 2015
speaking of alternatives to renewables
"Nuclear power has been energetically opposed by the environmental lobby for decades, on the grounds of danger. Yet nuclear power causes fewer deaths per unit of energy generated than even wind and solar power. Compared with fossil fuels, nuclear power has prevented 1.84 million more deaths than it caused, according to a study by two NASA researchers. Opposition to nuclear power has cost lives." - Aug. 13, 2015

Aug 15, 2015
Will Willie volunteer to buy the power from Vogtle?

Will he volunteer to take the high-level radioactive waste?

I volunteer to buy power and take all the fuel waste products from wind farms.

Aug 15, 2015
US industrial parks' demands supplied continuously day-and-night without interference of weather.
Nuclear is the safest energy production today and there is no reason to believe new advanced nuclear plants will be less safe.
Storage of nuclear waste is a purely political issue, not to be confused with a technical, or engineering problem.

Ecologically, it is worth the price.

Aug 15, 2015
"Storage of nuclear waste is a purely political issue, not to be confused with a technical, or engineering problem."

Did you tell them at WIPP? How long has it been closed since their radioactive gloves and coveralls and tools contaminated with Plutonium and actinides caught fire and contaminated the area?

Did you inform them at Hanford, where the nastiest stuff on Earth is creeping to the Columbia River, and we have been unable to stop it?

I suggest you read up on the babies still being born with partial brains near Hanford, and the cemeteries with the rows of baby graves.

Aug 15, 2015
LOL We will be able to spot gkams' house from a distance.

The lights will be on, and the piles of dead birds will be taller than the house.
Careful what you ask for.

The cause of the birth defects has not been found, so there is no need for hysterical nuke blaming on this issue.

Aug 15, 2015
"Careful what you ask for."

I ask for nothing. It is being done.

Aug 15, 2015
Estevan and willie should google "Hanford babies", and see what comes up. I have not tried it, but know what It will show.

That is the ultimate consequence of radioactive folly. It is time for the pro-nuke folk to come clean and tell us how they are going to CLEAN UP their disasters.

Aug 15, 2015
Ecologically, wind and solar are disastrous, large land and offshore areas, millions birds and bats butchered.
While it was already proven that wind and solar kill much more people per unit of energy generated than nuclear.

Aug 15, 2015
I'll clean up the dead birds if Willie will clean up Fukushima. Wind technology has not made any part of the Earth uninhabitable, like we have with nukes.

Aug 15, 2015
Actually I did, which is why I posted a news article that states the opinions of the Washington State health dept. and the Center for Disease Control. They don't give a cause for the defects because they can't find a cause, despite extensive research.

Perhaps science and fact would be better served if you actually looked things up before you state them. Or if you actually knew something about a subject beyond your own prejudices.

You are a hysteric, gkam. YOU are the ultimate result of radioactive folly.

If you have a scientific basis for your wanting us to Google something state it, otherwise look it up yourself or just shut the hell up. What next, chemtrails?

Aug 15, 2015
Gosh, what a coincidence, that we would have those babies exactly where we have that stuff so nasty we cannot even store it!!

It isn't proof, like you folk needed for "WMD!", is it? Oh, . . yes it is, in fact this one is REAL not a lie. I suggest you look into the history of the operations at Hanford, and the potential consequences for all of us on Earth.

Aug 15, 2015
Your opinion isn't proof, like the Center for Disease Control uses to determine cause.

Do you think you know better than them?

And what wmd folk are you ranting about now?

Go look into something yourself before you rant hysterically and demand someone else find proof of your folly that you don't accept anyway.

I suggest you have a nice cup of shut the hell up until you have proof of something.

Aug 15, 2015
Right now, a volcano is erupting close to the only nuke plant operating in Japan. They just turned it on, and are already evacuating folk from around the volcano.

Why do we let these folk fool around with this nasty stuff? And it is all to BOIL WATER!!! Honest! We can have better ways.

Aug 15, 2015
.. ..
"What's the biggest risk? The volcano or the media."

"more people die from suicide and murder in japan every year than have died from nuclear accidents ever."

Aug 15, 2015
It will be interesting to see how this turns out. Hopefully it doesn't have a lot of seismic activity and just spews ash and rock.

Mt St.Helens blew all over but didn't disturb the Trojan nuclear power plant at all. Of course it was 60 miles (96.5 kilometers) instead of 30 miles (50 kilometers) away.

I hold out hope for a Godzilla to emerge.

Aug 16, 2015
of course nuclear is terribly expensive and construction always drags on when the nukes are always built by government. In any govt project there are pressures to drain the budget as much as possible and nukes are no exception. A NPP is being built in my country and like many, it has become notorious for cost and schedule overruns because it works like a sieve for public funds into private contractor`s pockets. Afaik there are no NPPs built without govt involvement (because noone would insure them) and that is why nuclear power is doomed. Either it wont get built by private sector cheaply-efficiently or it will get guilt by govt inefficiently/expensively - either way, it already lost.

Aug 16, 2015
"What's the biggest risk? The volcano or the media."


Aug 16, 2015
"No-one has died as a result of radiation exposure in Fukushima" the worst has been the psychological impact / irrational terror caused by fear-mongers / environmentalists Taliban.

Aug 16, 2015
Are you going to help, Willie? It's good for you, from your posts.

Show us how safe it is!

Aug 16, 2015
This device measures bearing load: But this only reliably predicts failure if all bearings are flawless.
I would have thought that using their ultrasound sensor to test for metal fatigue cracks would be more productive.

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