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White Wind: White Etching Cracks bearing failures in wind turbines

White Etching Cracks (WEC) is an aggressive and unpredictable failure mode that occurs in bearings. WEC are internal cracks that usually occur in bearings used for gearboxes and main shafts in wind turbines.

WEC can cause failures after 1-10 % of the expected lifetime of a wind turbine, and can be considered to be the all-time most expensive technical failure mode for a wind turbine.

Even though improvements have been made in order to limit the risks of WEC, there is still no guaranteed way of protecting wind turbines from WEC. The project's specific goal of the WhiteWind project is to develop a new WEC-resistant bearing material using new surface technology solutions to provide a commercially attractive alternative to current wind turbine bearing materials.

The WhiteWind project includes a unique strategic partnership between DTU Wind Energy and leading wind turbine manufacturers, bearing manufacturers and surface treatment specialists to solve the most expensive technical failure mode of the wind turbine industry. The project includes comprehensive load monitoring, fracture mechanics modelling, materials development and laboratory scale bearing tests.

The project started December 1. 2017 and runs for four years



Hilmar Kjartansson Danielsen
Senior Researcher
DTU Wind Energy
+45 46 77 58 60


6 AUGUST 2020