Research Papers: Design of Mechanisms and Robotic Systems

A Flexible Chain Proposal for Winch-Based Point Absorbers

[+] Author and Article Information
Kjell Andersson

Machine Design,
KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
Stockholm 100 44, Sweden
e-mail: kan@kth.se

Anders Hagnestål

Electric Power and Energy Systems,
KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
Stockholm 100 44, Sweden
e-mail: anders.hagnestal@gmail.com

Ulf Sellgren

Machine Design,
KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
Stockholm 100 44, Sweden
e-mail: ulfse@kth.se

Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the Journal of Mechanical Design. Manuscript received October 25, 2018; final manuscript received March 19, 2019; published online May 13, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Yu-Tai Lee.

J. Mech. Des 141(10), 102301 (May 13, 2019) (9 pages) Paper No: MD-18-1791; doi: 10.1115/1.4043315 History: Received October 25, 2018; Accepted March 22, 2019

Ocean wave power is a promising renewable energy source. It has, however, been difficult to find a cost-effective solution to convert wave energy into electricity. The harsh marine environment and the fact that wave power is delivered with large forces at low speed make design of durable mechanical structures and efficient energy conversion challenging. The dimensioning forces strongly depend on the wave power concept, the wave energy converter (WEC) implementation, and the actual power take-off (PTO) system. A WEC with a winch as a power take-off system, i.e., a winch-based point absorber (WBPA), could potentially enable a low levelized cost of energy (LCOE) if a low-cost, durable and efficient winch that can deal with peak loads can be developed. A key challenge for realizing such a winch is to find a force transmitting solution that can deal with these peak loads and that can handle up to 80 million cycles during its life. In this article, we propose a design solution for a force transmitting chain with elastomer bearings connecting the links of the chain. With this solution no sliding is present, and the angular motion is realized as elastic shear deformations in the elastomer bearings when the chain is wound onto the winch drum. The elastomer bearings were designed for low shear stiffness and high compression stiffness, and the links were designed primarily to minimize the number of joints in the chain. Thereby, the maximum allowed relative angle between the links when rolled up over the drum should be as large as possible within practical limits. Finite element-based topological optimization was performed with the aim to increase the link strength to weight ratio. A test rig for a first proof of concept testing has been developed, and preliminary test results indicate that this chain concept with elastomer bearings can be a potential solution for a durable chain and should be analyzed and tested further for fatigue and sea operations.

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Fig. 1

Two possible arrangements suggested in Ref. [12] using a flexible pin: the use of a rubber-like elastic part (left) and metallic fins in spring steel (right)

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Fig. 2

A WBPA winch system with a buoy, a winch, and a simplified chain guiding the system and the chain, where the chain is of the type proposed in this paper

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Fig. 3

Illustration of the design process for developing a chain with elastomer bearings

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Fig. 4

Definition of angles

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Fig. 5

A simple rectangular elastomer block

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Fig. 6

Influence from shape factor on compressive modulus Ec, after [17]

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Fig. 7

Influence of compressive strain on the shear modulus G, after [17], where S in the figure is the shape factor

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Fig. 8

Principle layout of a laminate elastomer bearing [24]

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Fig. 9

Initial model for topological optimization

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Fig. 10

Resulting geometry after topological optimization [24]

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Fig. 11

Link geometry after step 11 in Fig. 3

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Fig. 12

Effective von Mises stresses for max tension load

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Fig. 13

The dimensioned 2 + 3 link combination (a) and elastomer bearing (b) for the Baltic sea application

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Fig. 14

Test rig with hydraulic jack for tensile loading, and a lever arm for torsion loading

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Fig. 15

Elastomer bearing mounted between pin and chain link

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Fig. 16

Shear deformation of the elastomer bearing as a function of compressive load

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Fig. 17

Radial deformation in the elastomer bearing as a function of compressive load



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