Towering megawatt wind turbines need strong, large bearings to support their long blades as they rotate. To meet that growing need, engineers at The Timken Co., North Canton, Ohio, have designed UltraWind bearings, a line of tapered roller bearings that range up to 9.6 ft in diameter. They are well suited for multi-megawatt turbines both onshore and offshore.

The new bearings feature two rows of tapered roller bearings with seals, lubrication, and condition monitoring. The unit’s pre-set internal clearance simplifies accurate assembly. A lighter, less-costly cage is optimized for capacity and roller retention in both steel and polymer versions. Raceway profiles control maximum stress levels and boost durability. The bearings have the highest life ratings in the industry, according to Germanischer Lloyd, a consulting firm that focuses on industry and energy. And the pre-loaded bearing maintains its high level of stiffness to manage motions of the main shaft and rotor.

The bearing can be customized to suit specific design arrangements including variable bolt circles, shaft-mounted or shaft-less designs, and direct drive or geared wind turbines.

Timken uses its proprietary Syber System Analysis to improve the main-shaft design, predict potential damage, and identify ways to reduce friction for each application. This can reduce the overall development time and capital equipment costs. In addition, with the recent opening of its wind energy test center, the company can now predict 20 years of field performance through a shortened five-month test cycle.