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Bearings help to bring windpower home silently

01 February, 2005

Bearings help to bring windpower home silently

A Scottish company claims to have developed the world`s first silent, building-mountable wind turbine. Edinburgh-based Renewable Devices says that its 1.5kW Swift turbine will generate up to 4MWh a year, saving up to £440 on electricity bills.

The turbine (above), whose output can be fed into the local electricity grid or used to heat water, has been designed to operate safely under a wide range of wind conditions, and to minimise noise generation and the transmission of vibrations to the building. Several SKF bearings are key to achieving this performance.

The turbine has a five-blade carbon fibre rotor with an outer diffuser ring designed to prevent the formation of noisy vortices at the blade tips. Damping components in the mounting brackets absorb vibrations over a wide frequency band, to minimise mechanically transmitted noise.

A patented twin-vane mechanical furling system, coupled to an electronic control system, controls the turbine speed and prevents power surges. It is designed to allow the optimum amount of power to be taken from the turbine under all wind and load conditions, without stalling.

The rotor is supported by two stainless steel, single-row, deep-groove ball bearings, chosen to cope with the immense gyroscopic and thrust loads that the turbine will experience, especially in high winds. The furling system`s yaw mechanism, which allows the turbine to track the wind direction, contains a third single-row, deep-groove stainless bearing, backed by a fourth bearing to increase its stability.

Renewable Devices is working with Scottish & Southern Energy to install several thousand of the Swift wind turbines over the next couple of years.




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