thyssenkrupp further expands test and development center for wind energy components in North Rhine-Westphalia

thyssenkrupp is further expanding its development activities for wind turbine bearings. The company has now commissioned a new test stand for pitch and main shaft bearings in Erwitte, just a few kilometers from its development center in Lippstadt. At the new site, covering an area of around 7,500 square meters, bearings for turbines with a capacity of more than ten megawatts can be tested and further developed under real-world conditions. The company has invested more than five million euros in the new test site.

Winfried Schulte, CEO of thyssenkrupp rothe erde: “This test site is specifically designed to holistically simulate the functioning and service life of new main shaft and pitch bearings for future generations of wind turbines. Holistically means that the bearings are tested in their original configuration, taking into account the relevant turbine components, i.e. rotor hub and blade. Such tests are of decisive importance for the new generation of 10 megawatt wind turbines, which will place significantly higher demands on the functionality and quality of the components.”

New-generation wind turbines have blades up to 80 meters in length. Pitch bearings connect the blades to the rotor hub and allow the blades to be optimally adjusted to the wind in order to regulate turbine output. The pitch bearings in particular are subjected to extremely high forces during operation. Alongside the main shaft bearings they are among the most important components of a turbine. Main shaft bearings support the entire drive system of hub, blades and generator. They transmit the torque from the blades to the generator producing the electricity and transfer wind loads and weight forces to the tower.

For the design of such bearings, intensive tests on a scale of 1:1 are necessary alongside theoretical calculations in order to evaluate effects such as wear and validate the design.

With thyssenkrupp rothe erde’s new test stand, function tests simulating the loading of a component over its entire lifetime of up to 25 years can be completed in six to twelve months. thyssenkrupp will also be using new digital measuring and test methods. For example, individual rolling elements inside the bearing are fitted with special sensors and used as measuring instruments. These “smart” rolling elements transmit measurements from the operation of the turbine in real time, allowing new insights into real loads and their effects on the overall structure. These digital measurement methods can also be used in normal operation outside the test stand. Tests with lubricants or leak testing can also be carried out.

“Having extensive in-house test equipment is an important competitive advantage these days. We have invested continuously in the expansion of our test center in recent years. Together with our customers, but also with certification bodies and universities, we are working on new technological solutions to make wind turbines even more efficient, robust and powerful,” says Winfried Schulte.

The test stand in Erwitte is part of thyssenkrupp rothe erde's test and development center for wind power components in Lippstadt. The center is one of the largest and most modern of its kind in the world, covering an area of around 10,000 square meters. Here, bearings for onshore and offshore wind turbines are tested and further developed. On a total of twelve large test stands quality and lifecycle tests are carried out on bearings with outside diameters of up to six meters. The focus is on induction-hardened bearings, extremely high-performance components suitable for particularly large applications.

thyssenkrupp in the wind industry

thyssenkrupp is an important partner to the wind industry. In addition to manufacturing components, the company offers service products and engineering. For example it builds elevators for wind turbines as well as fully automated facilities for the production of rotor blades. In addition thyssenkrupp supplies wind farm operators with state-of-the-art testing equipment for the remote monitoring of wind turbines and develops energy storage systems for industrial use. thyssenkrupp also operates a distribution business for pipes, steel, and industrial equipment used in the construction of turbines, towers and foundations. thyssenkrupp is also a supplier of materials for the wind industry. Extremely wear-resistant steel plate is used among other things to build foundations, towers and installation ships. Coated sheet products are used in the manufacture of nacelles and other components at risk from corrosion. Electrical steel from thyssenkrupp is an important raw material for generators and transformers.