Winds of change: Sealing for the future of energy

Winds of change: Sealing for the future of energy

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FTL Technology has decades of experience in providing custom-engineered sealing solutions for the power generation market. In years past, this support focused squarely on fossil fuels. While our sealing engineers still provide a suite of services and high performance products for these traditional forms of power generation, our climate has shifted – literally and metaphorically.

Today, almost 1,900 gigawatts of energy are being generated around the world through renewable sources. And with more opportunities for wind, tidal and solar being identified than ever before, the rate of growth shows no signs of slowing. Wind power in particular is not without its challenges, and when it comes to creating a more reliable and cost-efficient turbine, the right approach to sealing can be absolutely critical.

Harsh environments

Onshore or offshore, wind farms are subjected to incredible environmental pressures. In addition to general dirt and dust, wind industry seals also face high levels of exposure to UV and ozone, along with high and low temperature extremes.

By focusing on custom engineering, and in tailoring a sealing system to meet the unique requirements of any application, FTL Technology can design a resilient, high performance solution which protects the turbine against the elements. Our HNBR and PTFE seals are especially robust in this application. Selection of the right elastomer material grade, coupled with the optimal seal profile, delivers improvements in wear resistance and lifetime of the seal – with significant reductions in operational downtime.

External contaminants

The seals of a wind turbine are placed under near-constant bombardment from wind-propelled contaminants and the corrosive effects of salty air. From the high performance rotary seals on the main bearing through to the piston seals and static seals of the lock cylinder and pitch cylinder, these seals need to stand up to assault while performing the critical duty of a seal – preventing ingress of harmful contaminants whilst also preventing the loss of vital lubricant.

Our sealing engineers are always searching for more innovative ways to apply cutting-edge elastomer technology. We work with high performance elastomer grades with exceptional resilience to all kinds of chemicals, temperatures and pressures. With both standard and custom-engineered solutions, we are able to optimise wind industry seals to perform in under the exact demands of any operational environment.

Long term performance

The cost-effectiveness of wind energy is boosted significantly when equipment failure rates are low. There are a number of ways in which an experienced sealing engineer can positively impact the reliability of a wind turbine.

  • PTFE sealing – PTFE is inherently resistant to ozone and the oils and greases which are commonplace in wind turbine gears. Rotary shaft seals made from PTFE also deliver a desirable combination of thermal and mechanical properties. 
  • Labyrinth seals – When the application demands long life with a lack of friction on rotating elements – specifically in the main gear transmissions of turbines – an elastomer labyrinth seal represents an excellent solution. Designed around the exacting needs of each application without the difficulties in assembly experienced with metallic labyrinth seals, elastomer labyrinth seals can deliver incident-free working lives of up to twenty years.
  • Custom-engineering – Every wind turbine application faces its own slightly difference set of challenges. In order to address them properly, and expand the life expectancy of a sealing solution to its maximum, a customised approach to that sealing solution is vital. Off-the-shelf sealing products will inevitably lead to a compromised performance in one or more areas. By consulting with a specialist sealing engineer, you can ensure that nothing is overlooked in the delivery of a sealing system which performs reliably over a longer period of time.

As proud innovators in sealing technology, FTL Technology has not been left behind at this new horizon in power generation. We have been able to apply our material knowledge and our flair for custom engineering to maximise the potential of wind turbines, as well as other forms of renewable energy. Optimise your wind turbines by calling 0845 120 7415 and speaking to one of our specialists, or visit www.ftl.technology to find out more.

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