Project: Cost effective ceramic rollers for wind energy generation

_x000D_The goal of this project is to bring high quality ceramic rollers for hybrid bearings to the booming wind energy market at a lower price than is feasible today. In doing this, more rapid growth of the whole wind sector will be enabled, by eliminating the single largest bottle neck in the industry. _x000D__x000D_In order to achieve this, several parties need to cooperate, as development is required on multiple levels. Production techniques needs developing, R&D needs to push the limits of material refinement and both need to be carried out in a direction determined by the future end user._x000D__x000D_This is why we propose a collaboration between machine producer FCT, material developer Diamorph and end user Moventas inside the scope of the Eurostars Programme._x000D__x000D_-----------------_x000D_Background:_x000D_-----------------_x000D_The wind energy sector is growing fast and has a need for innovative technical solutions in order to improve the lifetime as well as the efficiency of wind power plants. Most wind power plants currently use all-steel bearings which have substantially shorter life times and weigh much more than hybrid bearings and are on top of this not electric isolators. The use of hybrid bearings as a replacement for conventional all-steel bearings is an important development that addresses these shortcomings. Reliable performances and long operating life is critical for bearings intended for wind energy. Today, however, there is a lack of availability of high-performing hybrid bearings. Furthermore, the cost of such high quality bearings is currently very high and needs to be reduced dramatically in order to support the growth of wind energy on the European market. This is the single largest bottle neck impeding more rapid growth. _x000D__x000D_Diamorph is a spin-off from the department of inorganic chemistry at Stockholm University. The company has developed ceramic rollers intended for bearing applications, especially hybrid bearings where ceramic rolling elements are used together with steel bearing rings. Sintered ceramic components are used instead of metallic parts in applications where properties such as extreme hardness, excellent high temperature behaviour, high thermal shock resistance, low density and high electrical insulating capacity are desired. The Diamorph rollers are produced with different ceramic materials, with SiAlON being the most prominent. The sintering technique SPS (spark plasma sintering), also referred to as FAST (field assisted sintering technique) is a method where a strong current is pulsed through graphite tools holding a ceramic powder, resulting in rapid and efficient sintering. In initial tests, these rollers have shown to have excellent properties and a quality higher than the ceramic rollers that are on the market today. Furthermore, it is possible to produce these high quality bearings at a substantially lower cost than is currently available._x000D__x000D_The specific unique advantages of the SPS are: _x000D_ 1. rapid heating of the sample and a more precise control over the sintering process,_x000D_ 2. shorter production cycles, resulting in lower production costs, _x000D_ 3. possibility of using lower cost powders while COtaining the same high quality end material, _x000D_ 4. optimized microstructure and a higher quality product with the same quality powder, and _x000D_ 5. the energy consumption per roller is lower than conventional sintering techniques, leading to a lower carbon footprint. _x000D__x000D_There is currently no industrial scale production of rollers produced with the SPS technique delivering to the wind energy sector. This is due to the fact that it is a novel technique which has not yet reached its full potential. The production costs are currently high as the users of the SPS machines are COly universities and other research centers. Due to this, the competitiveness of hybrid bearings is rather low, prices are still high and availability is low. For the end users this means that COtenance of steel roller bearings needs to be considered when planning new wind parks, which limits, rather than supports growth of the wind energy sector. _x000D__x000D_-------_x000D_Aim:_x000D_-------_x000D_The specific aims of this project are to: _x000D_ 1. bring cost effective ceramic rollers to the wind energy market and thus support its further growth,_x000D_ 2. develop and optimize these rollers for application in the wind energy market,_x000D_ 3. develop an industrial process for lowering production costs of the rollers using SPS technique, and_x000D_ 4. verify the product in hybrid bearings with an end-user customer in the wind energy market. _x000D_ _x000D_-----------------_x000D_Consortium:_x000D_-----------------_x000D_The project will be carried out by three parties:_x000D_ 1. FCT Systeme - Sintering machine producer - German SME - long experience in developing tailored machines,_x000D_ 2. Diamorph - Material developer - Swedish SME - R&D in advanced ceramics, and_x000D_ 3. Moventas - End user - Finnish Company making gear boxes for wind power applications_x000D__x000D__x000D__x000D__x000D__x000D_

Acronym WINDROLLER (Reference Number: 5283)
Duration 01/07/2010 - 30/06/2013
Project Topic The project will bring high quality ceramic rollers to the booming wind energy market at a lower price than is feasible today and thus eliminate the largest sector bottle neck for more rapid growth. Machine producer FCT Systeme, R&D-driven Diamorph and end user Moventas will collaborate to this end.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
As a end user Moventas couldn't utilize ceramic rollers as new technology and approval for wind gear application wasn't reached._x000D__x000D_CO reason was that wind energy demand has changed by lower volumes as well new technologies in MMW turbines. Application target was MMW turbines with high speed generators, but technology trend is turning to medium speed generators when challenges with traditional bearings are avoided. ceramic rollers were introduced, because of low inertia and better resistance against scuffing failures due high accelerations in big turbines, but as stated this challenge is solved by conceptual means of the whole wind turbine drivetrain. _x000D__x000D_
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 3

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 Moventas Wind Oy Partner Finland
3 FCT Systeme GmbH Partner Germany
3 Diamorph AB (publ) Coordinator Sweden