Internal load modelling of tapered-roller main bearings in wind turbines

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2023
Thesis identifier
  • T16696
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 201776163
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • The replacement of double-row spherical roller bearings with double-row tapered roller bearings as the main shaft support in wind turbines has been proposed as one of the solutions to the premature failures affecting the industry. In order to improve our scientific knowledge of tapered roller bearing loading in wind turbine main shafts, this thesis sets out to explore how these components may be modelled, how such models can be utilised to improve the understanding of their operational characteristics in relation to the inflow wind, and to compare their behaviour with that of spherical roller bearings. Novel drivetrain models with tapered roller main bearings are developed in this thesis with capabilities of evaluating internal component loading while accounting for variations in system sti↵ness at different operating points. The findings demonstrate that modelling the moment reaction behaviour of tapered-roller bearings is crucial for even simplistic representations, since moment loads at the wind turbine hub are key drivers of bearing displacement. The models developed here are used in an extensive analysis to determine characteristics and sensitivities regarding operational conditions experienced by double-row tapered roller bearings under realistic turbulent inflow conditions, while properly accounting for the system load-response behaviour, roller load distributions and impacts on bearing fatigue life ratings. The presence of “looped” loading structures and evidence of consistent roller edge-loading throughout normal operation is demonstrated, and load response was also found to be largely shared between the two roller rows, this contrasts strongly with the conditions known to hold for spherical-roller main bearings. High levels of fatigue life sensitivity to both operational and lubrication conditions are documented, and shear effects in the wind were found to have opposite effects depending on the bearing type in use, with increased shear exponents drastically reducing the fatigue life rating of the tapered roller bearing. Crucially, this work demonstrates the uniqueness of load conditions experienced by tapered roller bearings in wind turbines, indicating that experience developed in more conventional rolling bearing applications should not be reapplied blindly without first determining its validity in this application space.
Advisor / supervisor
  • Amiri, Abbas Mehrad Kazemi
  • Hart, Edward
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2023