Detection of Faults in Planetary Gearboxes in Wind Turbines

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


The gearbox is one of the most expensive components of a wind turbine. However, the average lifetime of a gearbox is considerably shorter in comparison to the lifetime of the overall wind turbine. Therefore, this project aims to develop the theory for explaining the modes by which wind turbine gearboxes fail, and how to design gearboxes to better deal with these modes of failure. This will include investigating the means of detecting the onset of faults in the gearbox, the development of analytical models to simulate the dynamic behaviour of the gearbox, and experimental testing to support the developed theory.


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McBride W (2019) Dynamic model of a cylindrical roller on a rough surface, with applications to wind turbine gearbox planetary bearings in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509620/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2022
1950237 Studentship EP/N509620/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2021
Title A dynamic model for describing the vibrations of a cylindrical roller bearing on a rough surface 
Description This model is a linear, frequency-domain representation of the vibrational behaviour of a cylindrical roller bearing. The model accepts a quantitative description of the roughness of the bearing surfaces (specifically, the power spectral density of the roughness) as an input, as well as a number of parameters that characterise the bearing (dimensions, material properties). The model outputs the power spectral density of the resulting vibration of the bearing races generated by the roughness. The type of roughness in question for this model can either be the natural roughness present in a newly manufactured roller bearing, or a representation of bearing surface damage in the form of faults of a distributed nature, such as due to micropitting or white structure flaking, forms of damage commonly observed in wind turbine gearbox planet bearings. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Model is being applied and extended to current research in this award, with the aims of detecting distributed faults in wind turbine bearings.