The extraction of energy from the wind is hardly a new concept; however modern wind turbines demonstrate a remarkable growth in electricity generation technology. These recent advancements in wind energy production have been propelled by an increased focus on sustainable energy, fuelled by global concerns of non-renewable resource depletion, pollution from current energy systems and climate change.
Wind generated electricity has evolved from 55 kilowatts in 1983 (Gasch and Twele 2002) to as high as 5.0 Megawatts today (RePower n.d.). At present, rapid technological and engineering advancements are proving to be the key to viable wind power schemes. Obviously such improvements in wind turbine design aim to extract the most energy from the wind available.
The design of wind turbine drive trains has been a key aspect in increasing energy production, mainly by reducing friction and rotational inertia. As one could imagine, the drive train has several different configuration options. For instance, two of the leading wind turbine manufacturers, Vestas and Enercon, utilise two very different approaches. Vestas uses a planetary gearbox, which the rotor fastens directly onto without a stand alone rotor shaft. Alternatively, Enercon have done without a gearbox due to the use of a custom direct-drive synchronous annular generator.
This thesis presents the results of the mechanical design and analysis of a 1.4MW capacity wind turbine drive train. The drive train is made up of all the mechanical components that are required to convert the rotational energy of the rotor blades into electricity, specifically the rotor blades, rotor hub, rotor input shaft, gearbox and generator.
Standard off the shelf components were specified where applicable. Components comply to Australian standards where relevant and Finite Element Methods (FEM) was also used. All components were fully modelled and drafted as if the drive train were to be constructed.
The work done in this thesis exposes the procedures and difficulties encountered in designing the drive train of a wind turbine. Hopefully this thesis provides the reader with an increased awareness of the industry and encourages more research in this field. In this era of precarious sustainability, wind turbines have the potential to be a booming form of energy production.