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Research Papers: Design Automation

A Methodology to Synthesize Gearbox and Control Design for Increased Power Production and Blade Root Stress Mitigation in a Small Wind Turbine1

[+] Author and Article Information
Hamid Khakpour Nejadkhaki

Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering,
University at Buffalo,
State University of New York,
Buffalo, NY 14260
e-mail: hamidkha@buffalo.edu

Amrita Lall

Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering,
North Carolina State University,
Raleigh, NC 27606
e-mail: alall@ncsu.edu

John F. Hall

Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering,
University at Buffalo,
State University of New York,
Buffalo, NY 14260
e-mail: johnhall@buffalo.edu

2Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Automation Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received August 30, 2016; final manuscript received May 18, 2017; published online June 27, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Massimiliano Gobbi.

J. Mech. Des 139(8), 081404 (Jun 27, 2017) (11 pages) Paper No: MD-16-1605; doi: 10.1115/1.4036998 History: Received August 30, 2016; Revised May 18, 2017

Large wind turbines typically have variable rotor speed capability that increases power production. However, the cost of this technology is more significant for small turbines, which have the highest cost-per-watt of energy produced. This work presents a low-cost system for applications where cost and reliability are of concern. The configuration utilizes the fixed-speed squirrel cage induction generator. It is combined with a variable ratio gearbox (VRG) that is based on the automated-manual automotive transmission. The design is simple, low cost and implements reliable components. The VRG increases efficiency in lower wind speeds through three discrete rotor speeds. In this study, it is implemented with active blades. The contribution of this work is a methodology that synthesizes the selection of the gearbox ratios with the control design. The design objectives increase the power production while mitigating the blade stress. Top-down dynamic programming reduces the computational expense of evaluating the performance of multiple gearbox combinations. The procedure is customizable to the wind conditions at an installation site. A case study is presented to demonstrate the ability of the strategy. It employs a 300 kW wind turbine drivetrain model that simulates power production. Two sets of wind data representing low and high wind speed installation sites were used as the input. The results suggest a VRG can improve energy production by up to 10% when the system operates below the rated wind speed. This is also accompanied by a slight increase in the blade-root stress. When operating above the rated speed, the stress decreases through the optimal selection of gear combinations.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

VRG-enabled drivetrain

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Fig. 2

Procedure for finding aerodynamic loads with BEM

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Fig. 3

Torque and thrust for wind speed 13 m/s

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Fig. 4

Mechanical system model

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Fig. 5

Flapwise and edgewise binding

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Fig. 6

Control problem formulation

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Fig. 7

Decision-making structure for control

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Fig. 8

Power (top) and stress (bottom) for each combination and weight factor for site 2

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Fig. 9

Pareto frontier for VRG combinations evaluated at site 2

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Fig. 10

Power (top), stress (middle), and applied gear ratio (bottom) in relation to wind speed, based on site 2 simulation results

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