Today's multi-megawatt wind turbines rely on rugged power-transmission systems to harness the wind's energy and convert it into renewable power. Massive, precision-engineered bearing and sealing systems like those made by The Timken Company are central to that production of power inside these turbines. The largest of these hoop-shaped bearings weighs more than five tons, with an inner diameter wide enough to allow an SUV to pass through the center. The perfection of such large-scale apparatus requires sophisticated testing and measurement capabilities that replicate the dynamic forces of wind. For that purpose, Timken will establish the Americas' only wind-energy research center focused on advanced development of bearing systems in wind turbines.
Timken will build the $11.8 million Wind Energy Research and Development Center in collaboration with Stark State College, the Stark County Port Authority and Stark Development Board. Spanning 18,000 square feet, the center will anchor the new Stark State Emerging Technologies Airport Campus on 15 acres of property adjacent to the Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio, on the borders of the City of Green in Summit County and Jackson Township in Stark County.
The center will secure 65 jobs directly, while creating a unique research practicum and technical certification program for Stark State College students to acquire critical experience conducting research, development, and testing of large wind-turbine bearing systems. Joint funding for the project combines more than $6 million invested by Timken; $2.1 million from Ohio's Third Frontier Commission; and a $1.5 million loan from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority's Advanced Energy Jobs Stimulus Program.
"Stark State College is honored to partner with The Timken Company to advance wind energy research and the development of wind turbine bearing systems," said John O'Donnell, PhD, president of Stark State College. "This partnership will support the development of clean energy academic programs and internships for students. Also, the return on investment is that it will position Ohio as a leader in renewable energy technologies."
As the first research facility of its kind in the Americas, the center will provide vital knowledge for the development of power-transmission component technologies to the industry while training current and future technicians to provide a complete range of services to wind turbine manufacturers and operators.
"We'll have the resources to validate material and design properties while gleaning invaluable performance data on the mission-critical components working inside very large turbines in dynamic conditions," said Douglas Smith, Timken's senior vice president of technology. "This will help us to create better designs for nature's unpredictable forces to advance the development of more reliable, cost-effective wind power generation."