Development of a novel wear detection system for wind turbine gearboxes

Andrew Wallace Hamilton, Alison Cleary, Francis Quail

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a low-cost, inline, gearbox lubrication monitoring sensor. The purpose of the research was to develop a sensor that can analyze wear particles suspended in gearbox lubricant systems. Current inline sensor systems rely on methods that prevent significant morphological classification. The size and shape of the particles are often indicative of the type of wear that is occurring and is therefore significant in assessing the gearbox state. A demonstration sensor consisting of a webcam that uses an active pixel sensor combined with a rectangular cross section optically transparent acrylic pipe was developed. A rig that simulates a gearbox lubrication system was used to test the sensor. Images of wear particles suspended in the lubricant were captured in real time. Image analysis was then performed to distinguish particles from the lubricant medium. Object characteristics, such as area and major axis length, were used to determine shape parameters. It was found that the sensor could detect particles down to a major axis length of 125 μm. Classification was also demonstrated for four basic shapes: square, circular, rectangular and ellipsoidal. ellipsoidal, was also demonstrated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465 - 473
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number2
Early online date9 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • lubrication
  • wear
  • sensor
  • wind turbine

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