The evolution of technology in the energy production sector is integral in producing more, greener energy at an affordable price. Amongst the highest costs in producing wind energy is the build and maintenance of the turbines themselves. However, these costs may drop in the future, thanks to a surprise discovery by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.
What is N3FC
N3FC is the name of a coating that was developed to lubricate and coat, thereby reducing friction between parts. Thanks to carbon-to-carbon bonding that is described as “diamond-like,” the coating helps to reduce micropitting.
Micropitting is a phenomenon that is caused by repeated rolling and sliding cycles in gears and bearings. While this phenomenon happens in more technology than just wind turbines, it is the main reason that turbines have to be brought down for maintenance and repair. Once the micropitting starts, continuing contact makes chipping and corrosion even worse with every cycle. After thousands of cycles, this can produce large cracks in parts, leading to maintenance need or even drivetrain failure.
N3FC reduces the friction, and has been tested at the University of Akron’s Engineered Surfaces Laboratory for over 100 million cycles without appreciable micropitting. While the coating still requires real-world testing outside of the controlled laboratory environment, this is a very encouraging result.
N3FC and Wind Turbines
One of the major costs of producing wind energy is the maintenance of the turbine units. A high-performance coating will reduce the wear and tear on components. This means less of a need for maintenance, a cost that continually drives up wind energy cost. It also means less downtime for each turbine, leading to greater production per unit as well as for the overall grid.
Even with proper maintenance, drivetrain parts wear down after time and require replacement. N3FC will reduce that wear, extending the lifetime of drivetrain parts. This means less need for replacement parts, reducing the capital investment in the turbines and bringing the production cost down. As with maintenance, drivetrain replacement can lead to lengthy downtime, so having a more durable drivetrain can again reduce downtime, and increase the amount of energy produced per turbine.
Here at Hi-Tek Manufacturing, we applaud any development that can make wind energy a safer, less expensive alternative. Green energy is the future for our community, bringing the needs of the citizens in line with the needs of our surrounding environment. For more information about our capabilities in servicing the turbine industry please contact us.