MRO Magazine

Silicone technology helps make wind energy a breeze


January 7, 2009
By MRO Magazine
MRO Magazine


Midland, MI — Silicones are helping wind energy become one of the world’s fastest growing sources of renewable power with technologies that improve turbine reliability, increase efficiency and reduce costs. In 2007, capacity expansions in North America, Europe and China drove a 27% increase in global wind energy use, according to the latest Vital Sign Update from the Worldwatch Institute.


Converting wind energy to electricity is relatively simple: blades on a turbine shaft turn a generator to produce electricity. However, effectively producing a significant amount of clean, renewable power can strain components such as hydraulic circuits, brakes, blades and bearings.



“The cost of alternative energy sources must be weighed against existing technologies, so factors such as reliability, remote monitoring and ease of maintenance are critical factors for operators of wind turbines,” said Suzanne Fuson, global market director, Dow Corning. “High-efficiency lubrication is critical to ensure reduced maintenance and long-term reliability of wind power technologies.”


Friction between wind turbine components can drastically reduce efficiency, making proper lubrication and maintenance essential to maximize energy output. Specially formulated silicone lubricants, such as Molykote brand lubricants from Dow Corning, are designed to meet these extreme demands.


Well-lubricated parts not only are more reliable and can withstand longer service intervals, but also have a higher level of efficiency than poorly lubricated assemblies. Combined with sleeker and more modern designs that incorporate longer blades, taller towers and improved mechanical and electrical components, proper lubrication ensures that that assemblies are running at peak performance.


“From industrial plants to wind powered turbines, new advances in silicone lubricants and proper lubrication programs have helped manufacturers and consumers reduce their carbon footprint,” said Fuson. “As the need for more wind farms and renewable sources of energy increases, silicones will continue to play a vital role in growing wind energy as a critical part of a balanced energy future.”