Wind Power Perfects Its Swing

(PresseBox) ( Hannover, )
- ContiTech bearing systems enhance the cost-efficiency and service life of wind power stations
- Rubber, the material of the future, provides a higher degree of environmental protection
- Customized vibration technology from one source

The German federal government wants wind energy to supply 15% of the power supply in Germany by 2030 and thus represent a major component of an eco-friendly energy mix. But elsewhere in the world, as well, this type of energy production opens up a significant future market for ContiTech Vibration Control - especially in the growing wind energy markets in the US, China and India. Industry insiders view two-digit growth rates as realistic, even in economically troubled times. What is, in effect, a terrific chance for industry, harbors, at the same time, major technological challenges. Indeed, wind power stations must be up to withstanding mighty forces and - especially in the case of offshore stations - be capable of reliably functioning over a longer period of time in a rough and demanding environment.

ContiTech Vibration Control has successfully faced up to this challenge. It produces state-of-the-art bearing systems for wind power stations made of non-corroding, flexible and durable rubber, the material of the future.

ContiTech Vibration Control thus has a big hand in ensuring that these stations operate more economically and efficiently and, thus, in a more eco-friendly manner.

With high-quality bearings made of elastomer composites, ContiTech Vibration Control underpins above all the functional reliability of these stations. The bearings improve damping; their durability reduces the maintenance expense. At its Rubber Competence Center at Hannover Messe (booth A16 in hall 5), ContiTech provides information on how elastomer technology can be put to use in wind turbines. A new brochure for the branch also presents the products and services that underscore ContiTech Vibration Control's involvement in this future market in the direction of increasing sustainability.

Product solutions for complex suspension tasks in wind power stations A wind turbine's efficiency depends largely on the service life of the individual components. And these are exposed to adverse weather conditions and in coastal areas and offshore parks to aggressive salts as well. Long service life is particularly essential in the latter case, as the repair and maintenance of offshore facilities can be quite costly. The solution: Wind power stations are perfectly suspended to minimize the negative impact of vibration and provide greater elasticity. "The added environmental advantages of this are, firstly, reduced noise pollution and, secondly, much extended turbine service life. What is more, it makes setting up and servicing the facilities and their components a whole lot easier," explains Thomas Knickelmann, branch manager for wind power at ContiTech Vibration Control.

In wind turbines, bearings see to the complex job of absorbing loads and isolating impacts and vibration. They likewise dampen critical resonances emitted by stressed structural parts. And they provide the requisite measure of qualitative reliability. They allow for elastic suspension complexes where rigid mounts were once the sole option - for example, in such key functional components as the axle and control cases located in the wind turbine's pod and hub. In a 5-MW station in northern Germany, for instance, transformers and load cabinets for the motors are elastically suspended on dome mounts and buffers from ContiTech. Employing tear-resistant dome mounts, this innovative solution is also employed to acoustically decouple the pod housing and to suspend the gearbox and generators. The bearings optimally absorb axial and radial loads and give the station a perfect swing.

Protection of the station components with passive suspension

Elastic suspension systems consist of passive rubber-to-metal joints of the kind ContiTech manufactures and markets in its SCHWINGMETALL® and MEGI® product lines. These components limit the transmission of shocks and structure-borne sound to the surroundings and reduce the effect of ambient vibration on sensitive equipment. The rubber-to-metal-bonded joints not only suspend and insulate. Depending on the rubber material chosen, they simultaneously have a damping effect.

Active vibration technology - as variable as the wind

Passive suspension systems are nonetheless limited in their application possibilities, especially when the surrounding conditions vary. They are best complemented by active vibration systems, which can offset oscillations over a wide frequency range. The principle behind the active absorber, which ContiTech Vibration Control has developed through to production readiness, is based on the harnessing of electric energy, which an actuator makes targeted use of to generate countervailing vibration. This vibration can then be directed into the particularly stressed components of the turbine's pod. This anti-phase compensation is used to limit the transmission of vibrational interference - to a switch cabinet, for example, or a power unit.

Customized suspension systems from one source

ContiTech Vibration Control has decades of experience with reliable processes for the production of suspension elements for industrial applications. As partner to industry, the company incorporates the quality of German engineering combined with the competence born of decades of involvement in the manufacture of elastomer materials and the processing of these into products in the area of vibration technology. "We give individual attention to the specific needs of each and every wind turbine manufacturer, who is served with tailor-made suspension systems from one source - from the inquiry through to series production. During the entire production process, the customers profit from synergies realized within our corporation," says Knickelmann. "This applies not only to test methods and technology or to material development but also to delivery reliability." Conti-Tech's primary aim is to manufacture elastomer components exactly geared to the respective requirements.
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