Leaded by Sidenor I+D, the European project WINDUCTION (Eco-design of an alternative production route for planet gears of wind turbines gearboxes), faces the challenge of reducing the environmental impact in the production process of planet gears for the gearbox of wind turbines.
The project is focused on the replacement of the carburizing, an operation involving huge energy consumption (obtained from fossil fuels) and CO2 emissions, by induction hardening. The main advantages of this alternative process are:
- Reduced energy consumption.
- Use of energy obtained from renewable resources.
- Reduction of the component C footprint.
- Productivity increase: the time required for induction hardening is much shorter than for carburizing (minutes vs days).
- Lower production costs.
The change in the manufacturing process would imply the utilization of a different steel (currently 18CrNiMo7-6). Therefore, in the project different steels are evaluated to determine the most suitable one to be induction hardened. In the last part of the project, after evaluating at laboratory scale the forgeability, machinability and fatigue performance of surface hardened specimens (gears of module 8 and external diameter 220 mm), real components (planet gears of module 18 and external diameter 400 mm) will be fabricated through the new process and validated.
The project Consortium is formed by, apart from Sidenor I+D, IWT (technological centre from Germany), RWTH-WZL (university from Germany) and three industrial companies such as Ovako (steelmaker from Sweden), InductoHeat (producer of induction furnaces from Germany) and ZF (company dedicated to the production of gearboxes for wind turbines in Belgium and Germany).
The project, granted by the RFCS (Research Fund for Coal and Steel), has a total budget of 2.55 M€ and a duration of 42 months (from June 2021 to November 2024).