white etching areas
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A critical problem for wind turbine gearboxes is failure of rolling element bearings where axial cracks form on the inner rings. This article presents field experience from operating wind turbines that compares the performance of through-hardened and carburized materials. It reveals that through-hardened bearings develop WEA/WECs and fail with axial cracks, whereas carburized bearings do not. The field experience further shows that a carburized bearing with a core having low carbon content, high nickel content, greater compressive residual stresses, and a higher amount of retained austenite provides higher fracture resistance and makes carburized bearings more durable than through-hardened bearings in the wind turbine environment.
Wind turbine gearboxes are subjected to a wide variety of operating conditions, some of which may push the bearings beyond their limits. Damage may be done to the bearings, resulting in a specific premature failure mode known as white etching cracks (WEC), sometimes called brittle, short-life, early, abnormal or white structured flaking (WSF). Measures to make the bearings more robust in these operating conditions are discussed in this article.
S.S. White Provides Twisting, Turning Power Transmission with Flexible Shafts