High Torque Slew Drives Keep Wind Turbines Fully Operational

Published: 12th October 2010
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Wind turbine generators are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative energy source; producing electricity by harnessing the power of the wind. The largest of these windmills stands 150 feet tall with blades half a football field long. At the top youíll find the generator, hub and gearbox which weigh 30,000 to 45,000 pounds. So, what is it that makes an enormous and heavy windmill turn so it can take advantage of wind direction? Well, slew drives of course. But not all slew drives are equally suited to this type of job.

Have you ever driven past a windmill field only to see a bunch of the windmills turned the wrong way and motionless? Chances are their slew drive has failed because of too much torque placed on it from powerful winds and its own weight. Torque is the twisting force that is exerted upon an axis or pivot and, for some slew drives, wind turbine torque is just too much to bear. For optimal wind turbine performance, you need a slewing drive that can handle a lot more torque. Thatís where the hourglass technology comes in very handy.

Hourglass technology creates a slew drive that can withstand five to nine times survivability load. A standard slewing drive engages just one tooth, which is fine for very low-torque applications. An hourglass slew drive engages engages five to eleven teeth at one time. This increased tooth engagement gives the gearbox tremendous power and strength and the slewing drive much higher torque endurance and durability. These attributes make it the perfect choice for wind turbines as well as other high-torque, high-load applications. This hourglass technology also allows you to get both load-holding and rotational torque from the same gearbox.

So, the next time you see a windmill standing motionless with its back to the wind, itís very possible that a faulty slew drive is to blame.

Brent Morgan, founder of Kinematics manufacturing which manufacture slew drive, slewing drives and other specialty drive components for custom requirements. Kinematics is specialized in swing drives, worm gears and slewing drives. For more information visit wwww.kinematicsmfg.com

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