A physics-informed neural network for wind turbine main bearing fatigue

Unexpected main bearing failure on a wind turbine causes unwanted maintenance and increased operation costs (mainly due to crane, parts, labor, and production loss). Unfortunately, historical data indicates that failure can happen far earlier than the component design lives. Root cause analysis investigations have pointed to problems inherent from manufacturing as the major contributor, as well as issues related to event loads (e.g., startups, shutdowns, and emergency stops), extreme environmental conditions, and maintenance practices, among others. Altogether, the multiple failure modes and contributors make modeling the remaining useful life of main bearings a very daunting task. In this paper, we present a novel physics-informed neural network modeling approach for main bearing fatigue. The proposed approach is fully hybrid and designed to merge physics-informed and data-driven layers within deep neural networks. The result is a cumulative damage model where the physics-informed layers are used model the relatively well-understood physics (L10 fatigue life) and the data-driven layers account for the hard to model components (e.g., contribution due to poor greasing conditions).

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