Gearbox Instrumentation for the Investigation of Bearing Axial Cracking

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Failures in gearbox bearings have been the primary source of reliability issues for wind turbine drivetrains, leading to costly downtime and unplanned maintenance. The most common failure mode is attributed to so-called axial cracks or white-etching cracks, which primarily affect the intermediate and high-speed-stage bearings. The high-speed-shaft and bearing loads and sliding will be measured with a specially instrumented gearbox installed in a 1.5-megawatt turbine at the National Wind Technology Center in an upcoming test campaign. Additional instrumentation will also measure the tribological environment of these bearings, including bearing temperatures, lubricant temperature and water content, air temperature and humidity, and stray electrical current across the bearings. This paper fully describes the instrumentation package and summarizes initial results.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages35
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-70639


  • bearing axial cracking
  • drivetrain
  • gearbox
  • high-speed shaft
  • NWTC
  • wind energy


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