Consider the conditions inside of a massive wind turbine: perched hundreds of feet in the air, jostled by breezes strong enough to create thousands of watts of energy with each spin of its massive blades, under constant pressure from the weight of the huge apparatus and buffeted constantly by the physical effects of weather, ozone and gravity. It’s a tough environment!
Nissens Cooling Solutions, a North Carolina-based manufacturer and international supplier of industrial heat exchanger products, climate-controlled products and thermal solutions, has supplied thousands of cooling components and systems for the wind turbine industry over the last three decades.
The turbines are a part of Nissens’ OEM division. The team is responsible for the development of complete thermal solutions for wind energy, forestry machinery and hydraulic systems.
Shock absorbtion and custom rubber engineering
Customized cooling systems require application-specific parts. Our Apple Rubber project engineers were called upon to work with Nissens to develop and produce a special rubber mount using 60 shore A durometer EPDM rubber that allowed the cooling system within the turbine to adapt to its environment.
“Because of shock and vibration within the cooler, a custom-engineered rubber mount was needed to allow the cooling system to expand within its frame,” Apple Rubber Materials Manager John Tranquilli says. “But the part needed to expand without causing premature failure from the vibration.”
The part was placed between the cooler and the external framework to absorb the shock. While protecting the cooler against vibration, the rubber part allows the cooler to grow .188 inches within the frame. It’s just one small part in a complicated system — but crucially important to the success of the overall application.
This is a different path from Apple Rubber’s norm of small O-Rings, since it’s a larger piece and a unique design fit to serve the custom transfer application (Radiator, WCAC).
“Our products are designed per customer specification, every time,” says Alan Steighner, general manager of North America NCS Operations. “You can’t get our part out of a catalog— so when Apple Rubber was willing to provide a unique part for this application, it was custom engineered. It wasn’t off the shelf.”
Nissens is somewhat nontraditional because they utilize components to build a complete engineered design. They aim to supply complete turnkey packages for their customers.
“We’re not married to one market,” Steighner says. “Our advantage is that we cross many different markets. Because of this, we need suppliers like Apple Rubber that go further than standard products.”
Nissens and Apple Rubber worked together to develop a part that ultimately offered high quality, excellent sealing abilities, good chemical resistance and dampening properties, and a longer life of the completed product.
“You have more of an advantage with Apple Rubber, because you have quality parts and engineering support around the clock” Steighner says. “We’ve been working together since 2002 and Apple Rubber is willing to do a little extra to meet our specifications.”
Providing innovation for evolution
Providing to cooling solutions for Nissens’ wind turbines is just one component of this project. The other half is contributing to a growing global industry.
The dimensions of wind turbines have changed considerably over the past few decades. Working in any specialized industry requires close attention to the market and relevant technological advancements. As our customers respond to emerging needs of their specific fields, we aim to keep pace and develop the right solutions with less of an environmental impact.
Questions? Thoughts? Share your comments below or Tweet us @AppleRubber! We’d love to hear from you.