The standard rolling contact fatigue life calculations currently in use by the rolling bearing industry is based on the first occurrence of subsurface-initiated spalling of a raceway or roller surface. However, wind turbine gearbox roller bearings have been suffering from another damage mode, which manifests itself as micro-pitting. The micro-pitting, which is spalling on a micro scale, by itself can be tolerated in its early stages; i.e. the roller bearing will still function properly. As the damaged bearing continues to operate, the micro-pitting propagates and at the later stages, often termed peeling, the pitting becomes deep enough to reach the appearance of traditional subsurface-initiated spalling. To better understand the phenomenon micro-pitting and its causes, this study was conducted to review published literature on the topic as it relates to bearing operation. The key findings were the need for a low specific lubricant film thickness parameter, and some component of sliding velocity in the contacting surface. With this knowledge, a proposed test scheme including these variables could be created from which a method to predict the risk of micro-pitting may be determined.

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