NSK boosts wind turbine efficiency with advanced tapered roller bearings
Photo courtesy of NSK Ltd.

NSK boosts wind turbine efficiency with advanced tapered roller bearings

NSK Ltd., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of bearings headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, announced the development of its latest innovation designed to significantly enhance the efficiency and reduce the costs of wind turbines, particularly benefiting the burgeoning offshore wind power sector.

The next-generation high-load-capacity tapered roller bearings boasts a 25% increase in load capacity over traditional models by refining the roller crowning shape, has been chosen by a premier European wind turbine manufacturer for integration into the gearboxes of 15MW class offshore wind turbines. NSK anticipates the commencement of mass production and delivery by fiscal year 2024, with plans to extend distribution to the Chinese market within the same timeframe. The company is targeting annual sales of JPY4 billion (USD) for this product by fiscal year 2026.

The drive towards decarbonisation has catalyzed the wind power market’s expansion, with a notable push towards larger and offshore wind turbines to enhance power generation efficiency. Concurrently, there’s a rising demand for reducing construction, transportation, and maintenance costs, necessitating wind turbine bearings that are both longer-lasting and lighter.

NSK’s new bearings not only promise improved reliability and extended lifespan through enhanced load capacity but also offer a significant reduction in weight—about 30% lighter than previous models. This advancement is made possible by NSK’s expertise in numerical simulation and manufacturing engineering, which has optimised the roller crowning shape to distribute contact surface pressure evenly, preventing excessive stress at the roller ends under high loads.

NSK began its journey manufacturing the first bearings in Japan in 1916, and has since developed into a global organisation researching, designing, and manufacturing Motion & Control™ solutions essential for mobility and industrial applications. NSK is the top supplier of bearings in Japan and is the third largest supplier in the world by market share.