White etching cracks (WECs) are the dominant mode of failure for wind turbine gearbox bearings. These failures are characterized by subsurface initiation and local region of microstructural alterations adjacent to the crack faces. The definitive cause of WECs within the field is unknown, because of this laboratory replication has proved difficult. At a benchtop scale, specific lubricant formulations referred to as “bad reference oils” (BROs) are often employed to aid in the formation of WECs; however, exactly how these lubricants induce WECs is unknown. The present work intends to elucidate how these lubricants facilitate the formation of WECs by systematically varying the additives which are found in BROs and studying the effect that these additive combinations have on time until failure, as well as tribofilm development. It was found that the lubricant containing Zinc dialkyldithiophosphate alone led to the formation of WECs sooner than any lubricant studied. It was also documented that a lubricants frictional characteristics play a more dominant role than the tribofilm characteristics.
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