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Hello fellow engineers,

i have a question for anyone who knows about the constructive elements of wind power plants. In certain wind power plants there is a rotor lockout disk (see picture), where the shaft pierces and connects the nacelle and the nave. This component needs to be pivotable, since the nave connects to the blades, which are turning.

interior of turbine with parts

Now in some climates there is a need to heat the blades due to icing to prevent energy production losses. One variant to do that would be to transfer heat (via air or another heat transfer medium) into the nave. The heat generator would be situated in the nacelle.

Is it statically possible to perforate the rotor lockout disk in order to transfer heat into the nave? Are there any examples where some kind of tube goes through a part that is constantly turning? What I need are technical examples of similar applications in process engineering or energy technology. Of course tube contortion needs to be avoided. I really hope some of you have some insights.

(I am aware that there are methods to de-ice wind turbines via resistance heating or have a hot air generator in the nave, but in this case the heat generator must be located in the nacelle)

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  • $\begingroup$ Have you done any research? what about slip rings to power electrical resistive heaters mounted in the blades? what about the interrupt technology to allow guns to shoot through propellers? Given the connections needed to twist the blades to control the pitch then a bit of heat should be minor. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented May 16 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ I have done research and yes most de-icing applications use electricity, but in this special case a heat fluid needs to be used. $\endgroup$
    – Tybald
    Commented May 16 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ Have you considered getting the fluid there through a hollow shaft? $\endgroup$ Commented May 16 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ asking if something is possible is a bad spec. Of course it's possible to heat the hub, blow hot air through a slot into a hole. Whether it's feasible to do this to heat up a rotor is a different thing. $\endgroup$
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented May 17 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ @TomášLétal I am almost certain that you cannot pierce the shaft, since it is the part that is doing the force transmission and needs to be massive to be statically sound. $\endgroup$
    – Tybald
    Commented May 17 at 6:39

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The mechanism you are looking for is called a rotary union. To have a closed loop system you would need a Dual-Flow Rotary Union also called a Multiple Passage Rotary Union.

It looks like this is currently already done for sending hydraulic fluid to control the pitch of the blades. See this rotary union applications youtube video. Its a good overview and halfway through references wind turbines. So one potential idea would be to leverage the existing hydraulic fluid to transfer the heat required. You could put hydraulic valves in the nacelle to switch between the heating and pitch control functions and connect those valves via an electrical slip ring.

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