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In order to increase the wind yield, ever longer rotor blades are being designed. This is resulting in enormous forces acting on the rotor blade bearings between the hub and rotor blades of wind turbines. Furthermore, nowadays rotor blades can be individually controlled and continuously optimised to the prevailing wind conditions. These oscillating movements are increasing the loads to which the rolling bearings are exposed even further.

The launch of the collaborative project HBDV - Design of Highly Loaded Slewing Bearings is aimed at staying abreast of this development. The consortium of five research institutes and four wind turbine manufacturers involved in this project is currently developing new rotor blade bearings to ensure the stability of multi-megawatt wind turbines in future. High-performance rotor bearings are designed to avoid long downtimes and the high costs associated with downtime and repair work. Until 2021, the project partners will be carrying out tests to investigate the wear and tear and fatigue behaviour of original-sized slewing bearings as well as modelling and simulating the load-bearing capacity of the blade connection. They will also be developing methods and models to predict the service life of oscillating slewing rings.

The collaborative project is receiving more than 3.8 million euros in funding until September 2021 from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).