Over the past 15 years or so we have seen a wide variety of technology changes in wind turbines and the slip rings they use. One of the most evident is the change in the speed and amount of data being transferred through the hub slip ring.
When we first began supplying the wind industry it was common for us to see RS485 being used for the data. This was also a very robust means of transferring data and it was relatively easy. The next protocol that we saw was CAN Bus. This seemed to be the preferred choice for a long time. With CAN we began to start using silver brush and silver rings to assure a more reliable circuit. CAN Bus itself was also a very reliable circuit that seemed to hold up well in a wind turbine environment.
After CAN the next jump to higher data speeds came in the form of Ethernet. It first began with 10Mbps and eventually worked its way up to 100Mbps. This required some changes and updates to maintain a good circuit as Ethernet tends to be a more sensitive circuit/connection. We began using redundant brushes and some other technics that proved to greatly increase reliably.
The latest trend we are seeing amongst turbine manufactures is using fiber optic rotary joints for the data transmission. FORJs are a complete separate capsule that is used in conjunction with the slip ring and has proven to be very reliable. UEA now supplies slip rings with FORJ integrated into one assembly. This allows our customers to still purchase an all in one unit from a single supplier. This, along our robust power circuits, is making for a highly reliable and long lasting assembly.
UEA is constantly looking for new technology that can enhance and advance our product to be a leader in this industry. We look forward to what the upcoming years of change will bring. If you’re interested in learning more about wind turbine slip rings, check out our website.
Sr. Application/Design Engineer