Crossflow Energy Company is utilising bearings supplied by RA Rodriguez to help revolutionise the world of wind power.
The KDM slewing ring with external gear is helping Crossflow to widen the adoption of ‘small wind' technology and open up a wealth of market opportunities with the potential to be as commonplace as solar in everyday renewable applications.
Offering a unique way of bringing affordable, reliable power to many parts of the world which rely on small-scale diesel generation to meet growing essential power needs, Crossflow's hybrid energy solutions leverage the company's know-how in maximising renewable energy capture from a combination of wind, solar and battery storage. Reducing reliance on fossil fuels and their damaging consequences, these solutions incorporate Crossflow's patented resilient wind generation and ‘2 in 1' Eco Tower system.
In its development process, Crossflow has addressed historical challenges associated with harnessing wind power, such as high turbulence and veering winds, plus past limitations with reliability, noise and vibration. However, in order to develop successful product solutions, the company relies on high-quality engineering components, including bearings.
“We needed very large bearings to fit around our wind turbine towers,” says Rebecca White, commercial director at Crossflow Energy. “Rodriguez was one of the few companies that had slewing rings in the required size. We also needed robust and resilient bearings to take the force of incredibly strong wind loads.”
Crossflow looked at three or four different vendors but, in the end, RA Rodriguez was the only supplier which had the right type of bearing – in the right specification – ready to go off-the-shelf: the KDM.H.A.1155.00.10 slewing ring with external gear. Slewing bearings consist of an inner ring and an outer ring, one of which usually incorporates a gear. Both rings typically feature an attachment hole, which allows for optimised power transmission between adjacent machine components.
“The bearings we scrutinised from some other suppliers wouldn't have stood up to strong wind loads on a continuous basis,” says Rebecca. “In contrast, the Rodriguez bearings are durable and match the characteristics of our low-maintenance turbines. Furthermore, we've received great support from Rodriguez since the outset. They’ve cleared up any issues right away; it's been a really helpful, consultative process.”
The KDM slewing ring is now an important part of a new product design from Crossflow Energy. “Previously, our turbines didn't fit around towers, they sat on top,” explains Rebecca. “In order to open up the potential of ‘small wind' for the telecoms industry, given that telecoms equipment sits on top of telecoms towers, we needed to utilise bearings that would allow our turbines to fit around towers. We assembled the first KDM slewing rings to our new product in early 2022.”
Crossflow’s self-powered Eco Tower integrates the company’s ‘Transverse Axis Wind Turbine’ and co-hosted telecoms equipment with conventional solar and battery technologies to create a 24/7, self-powered communication mast. Eco Towers provide reliable and affordable energy to the telecoms sector, facilitating 4G/5G connectivity in off-grid rural ‘not spots’ and delivering a far greener alternative to fossil fuel generation.
The KDM bearings, which rotate the blade system to allow the turbine to yaw around the tower, fit all models in Crossflow’s 3.6 kW rated Turbine range, offering both accurate positioning and smooth, efficient rotation.
Rebecca concludes: “The bearings are a great fit. Tolerance can be a real issue in machine engineering, but we’ve faced no difficulties in that department. Most importantly of all, the bearing’s high-quality material ensures it is sufficiently robust to offer a long service life.”