The US Energy Department (DOE) has selected Romax Technology as lead mechanical engineer in a consortium that will develop an innovative wind turbine drivetrain design.
The $3m project is directed by DOE’s National
Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, near Denver.
project was developed with the brief of studying advanced drivetrain technology
that can be scaled for large turbines and ultimately reduce the cost of wind
is contributing its mechanical engineering and wind turbine expertise to a
consortium which includes NREL, DNV, DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, GE
Wind and Vattenfall Windpower.
Romax gearbox design will consist of a single, planetary stage that reduces part
numbers by eliminating higher speed gear stages, and investigates the use of
planet journal bearings for minimizing planet stage size.
team's concept will scale to ratings as high as 10MW whilst maintaining the
lowest possible costs.
involvement in the project started in 2011 when it was selected to be part of
an NREL team that competed against six other groups to conduct a study of
advanced drivetrain technologies. The team was one of only two awarded funding
for a follow-on phase to build a prototype and demonstrate commercialisation of
The drivetrain will be tested in the NREL's 2.5MW
dynamometer and will utilise the NREL's newly commissioned Controllable Grid
Interface (CGI) to replicate the loads wind turbines undergo in the field,"
says Christopher Halse, Romax engineering manager in the US.
"There have been reliability concerns with
traditional high speed gearbox designs resulting from the impacts of large and
unpredictable loads imparted on the gears and bearings. These types of
loads are caused both by the wind acting on the rotor and by utility faults to
the wind turbine gearbox through the generator,” according to NREL.
“It is these factors we are striving to address and
through the consortium we have every confidence that all the parties involved
will play a significant role in improving the drivetrain's overall reliability,"