Renewable energy systems are an important defense in the fight against climate change. Wind Turbines have led this energy transformation and now represent about 6% of the global energy capacity. These highly complex generators can pose big challenges for their operators. Schunk Carbon Technology partners with our customers to use the latest technology in material science to improve operational reliability, reduce maintenance downtime and ease system noise pollution.
Wind energy is a safe, low-emission, job creating electricity production method. Wind turbines are trusted to last 20 plus years, while commonly deployed in areas with extreme environmental conditions. This is particularly the case for wind turbines at sea, where storms, waves and salt air subject the components to heavy strain. Luckily for the industry, current transmission under the most adverse of conditions is precisely the daily business and passion of Schunk Carbon Technology. Recent collaborations between our carbon fiber and electrical carbon divisions have helped in creating a material that can help keep wind turbines protected from the parasitic currents.
Electrically conductive carbon fibers reduce wear and maintenance costs
With numerous industrial applications already benefitting from our carbon fiber-based shaft-grounding system, this innovation is now being used to safely and reliably ground stray currents in Wind Turbines. Once installed, the carbon fiber grounding system works to keep stray currents away from the systems shaft, thus protecting bearings, generators and transmission components. When electrical engineers speak of stray current, they mean the phenomenon of parasitic current that flows through conductors that were not intended for them. These stray currents can cause horrendous damage to ball bearings in wind turbine systems. Once smooth surfaces begin to resemble a golf ball with indentations and holes. The results are extensive repairs which are costly, both in terms of time and money. Particularly in the offshore sector, this phenomenon of parasitic currents can considerably impair the efficiency and profitability of the system.
Schunk Carbon Technology’s carbon-fiber grounding development diverts high-frequency stray currents using strands consisting of some 200,000 tiny electrically-conductive carbon fibers. These strands are treated in a special thermal process which has been patented by Schunk. The process further improves the conductivity and the wear resistance of the fibers. This also eliminates the need for a costly coating to the surfaces of the bearing as the problem is eliminated instead of being pushed down system. Moreover, the carbon fibers are also able to extend into tight places in the drive system that are difficult to reach. Wind-turbine operators can take advantage of this innovation to reduce breakdown-induced downtime and to optimize their maintenance cycles.
Learn more about our Industrial Shaft Ground System here and get connected!