Wind Turbine Failures
Two blade-detachment failures in large (600 kW) wind turbine generators were investigated. In the first case, bolt failures were established as the initial failure event. A fatigue crack reached a critical length, fast fracture developed and was then arrested as the bolt unloaded. Crack growth resumed when loading increased with cracking or fracture of adjacent bolts. The problem was identified as one of insufficient preload on the bolts. In the second failure on a different unit, a retaining nut on a blade assembly split, allowing a roller bearing to slide off a shaft and a blade to separate at its attachment hub. The failure was observed to be by fatigue. It was determined that pieces of the outer retaining rib (or flange) on the bearing inner cage had fractured by fatigue and were trapped between the nut and the bearing, producing excessive cyclic loading on the nut by a wedging action as the blade pitch adjusted during a revolution. Fatigue of the rim occurred as a result of inadequate lubrication in the bearing, which led to load transfer across the rollers, onto the rim.