To gauge the condition of a wind turbine, check its oil. Healthy lubricant is the lifeblood that keeps the turbine’s gearboxes in action: without it, our entire offshore wind fleet would grind to a halt.
Despite their huge importance, the condition monitoring sensors and filters in use today have not been developed specifically for the wind industry, but have been transferred from other industries such as oil and gas. Regular maintenance intervals and oil contamination checks keep these systems working and effective, but there is significant room for development.
Great Yarmouth-based Masterfilter’s unique dual flow systems can filter and remove water and fine particles from hydraulic and lubricating oil – one of the industry’s biggest contamination issues. As well as reducing operations and maintenance costs, their use can increase the life of gearboxes and drive systems.
Support from the Catapult is helping to transfer the company’s technology into renewable energy from the automotive industry, with a successful sponsored SCORE grant application for Masterfilter. “This was key in being able to attract private investment,” says Paul Clark, the company’s co-founder.
Our Operation & Performance engineers also helped Masterfilter to develop a test programme at the University of Strathclyde. The University’s test rig can simulate the conditions you’d expect to find on an operational offshore wind turbine, so an effective representative test is an important step towards full commercialisation. “It would have taken us considerable time and energy to research the best university with the right equipment available for the specific testing we need,” says Clark.
When testing is complete, Masterfilter will be a step closer to proving that their system can keep the industry’s blades turning while cutting maintenance costs