Robust Spherical Roller Bearings Make Wind Energy More Efficient

With the objective of increasing the reliability, availability and efficiency of wind turbines, Schaeffler has optimized its spherical roller bearings for rotor main bearing supports. The development of an asymmetrical spherical roller bearing represents yet another step towards more robustness.

SCHWEINFURT, GERMANY, October 6, 2016. With the objective of increasing the reliability, availability and efficiency of wind turbines, Schaeffler has optimized its spherical roller bearings for rotor main bearing supports. The development of an asymmetrical spherical roller bearing represents yet another step towards more robustness.


The bearing supports of the rotor shaft are of central significance in wind turbines. The locating bearing is subject to especially high axial loads. Against this background, Schaeffler has optimized its tried and tested standard spherical roller bearings in order to meet the specific requirements for use in wind turbines even more. In addition, Schaeffler has developed an asymmetrical bearing design.

Robust design for reduced wear
With regard to microgeometry, developers have improved the surfaces in order to reduce friction and thus the application of energy and wear. In addition, they have adjusted osculation to transmit rolling element normal forces across a large surface, reducing contact pressure. The rolling elements have also been specially profiled. Adjustments in macrogeometry primarily comprise two aspects. First, the engineers have reduced the internal bearing clearance, which has improved the operating clearance. This has also reduced the rolling bearing forces and the axial sliding of the drive train. Second, they used a firm center rib for the locating bearing supports of the wind turbine rotor and increased axial rigidity, which reduced the axial displacement of the drive train. In addition, the firm center rib helps distribute the contact pressure along the roller. With these two measures, they have been able to increase the bearings' robustness against wear, which is caused especially by axial displacement. As part of validation, the bearings were subjected to comprehensive testing to be granted Schaeffler's "X-life" seal of approval. The necessary validation steps have been certified by Germanischer Lloyd (certificate GL-CER-002-2015).

Better load distribution with asymmetrical spherical roller bearings
The asymmetrical bearing design represents yet another major step. It significantly increases the axial load carrying capacity and thus the service life of the main bearings in wind turbines. It allows a greater contact angle on the row of bearings supporting the axial load and a flatter contact angle on the row of bearings that mainly support radial loads. This results in a better load distribution, reduced contact pressure and a significant reduction of the axial sliding distance.


About Schaeffler
The Schaeffler Group is a leading global integrated automotive and industrial supplier. The company stands for the highest quality, outstanding technology, and strong innovative ability. The Schaeffler Group makes a key contribution to "Mobility for tomorrow" with high-precision components and systems in engine, transmission, and chassis applications as well as rolling and plain bearing solutions for a large number of industrial applications. The technology company generated sales of approximately EUR 13.2 billion in 2015. With around 85,000 employees, Schaeffler is one of the world's largest family companies and, with approximately 170 locations in over 50 countries, has a worldwide network of manufacturing locations, research and development facilities, and sales companies.
The Industrial division supplies components and systems for around 60 industrial sectors via its worldwide organization with market proximity and its application support service. The range includes miniature bearings only a few millimeters wide through to large-size bearings with an outside diameter of several meters.

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