Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 109–122 | Cite as

Partial Load: A Key Factor Resulting in the Failure of Gear in the Wind Turbine Gearbox

  • Qiang Wang
  • Yankun Zhu
  • Zhefeng Zhang
  • Changming Fu
  • Chen Dong
  • Huihe Su
Technical Article---Peer-Reviewed


Gearbox is a critical component in the wind turbine system which can transfer wind energy into wind power to replace some fossil energy in order to reduce the environmental pollution. A 1.5-MW wind turbine gearbox failed after about 5 years of service; however, the design life of the gearbox is 20 years. In this paper, the failure mechanism of the gearbox was investigated based on standard failure analysis procedures and finite element (FE) simulation. The failure of gear could be attributed to fatigue fracture, because typical macroscopic features—beach marks and ratcheting marks—could be observed on the fracture surface. Furthermore, contact fatigue caused the formation of pits on the failed working tooth flank, even brought some microcracks. It should be emphasized that fatigue pitting mainly concentrated at the left end of the failed gear. Based on the physical, chemical analysis, and FE simulation, the failure of gear should be essentially ascribed to abnormal load rather than the material defects. Finally, based on the failure characteristics, partial load should be responsible for the failure of the gear in the wind turbine gearbox.


Fatigue failure Gear-tooth failures Finite element analysis Fracture surfaces Partial load 



The authors would like to express their sincere thanks to Shenyang National Laboratory for Materials Science (SYNL) for the long-term support.


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Copyright information

© ASM International 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qiang Wang
    • 1
  • Yankun Zhu
    • 1
  • Zhefeng Zhang
    • 1
  • Changming Fu
    • 1
  • Chen Dong
    • 1
  • Huihe Su
    • 1
  1. 1.Shenyang National Laboratory for Materials Science, Institute of Metal ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangChina

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